Let’s just say I own more than a few Moosewood cookbooks. Moosewood is a delightful vegetarian-based restaurant (now serves seafood as well) established all the way back in 1973, with cooks who have been plugging away in the kitchen to create enough recipes for 11 internationally acclaimed cookbooks. (As pictured above, I own at least 7 of them!)
I love the recipes that lay within the pages of these cookbooks, not only because they almost always turn out wonderful, but also because they often inspire me to create new vegetarian dishes of my own. I was so inspired by Moosewood that a couple years ago (at the time when I was seriously contemplating culinary school at the CIA) I decided to make the track up to Ithaca, NY where the restaurant resides.
The restaurant, operating within a quaint renovated historic brick school building, had a casual atmosphere and served up some delicious food to my family and I. I recognized several of the entrees on the menu, such as the Hoppin’ John, a rendition of black eyed peas from one of their cookbooks. Another plus is that the food is on the healthy side, even within the restaurant, which of course can be a rarity. While I was dining there, they also served brown rice, which is becoming more popular among restaurants but certainly is yet to become the standard. (I really don’t understand why more restaurants don’t make the switch from plain white rice to one of the more healthy, fun options – brown/red/wild rice!)
The kitchen was relatively small, but it certainly was able to put out some quality food. My family and I enjoyed our dinner so much that we decided to come back for lunch the next day. There aren’t many places that serve up healthy vegetarian food, particularly where my family lives out in the countryside, so we were more than thrilled to have this experience at Moosewood.
I got the chance to take a tour of the restaurant, which was intended to inspire me to open my own healthy, vegetarian restaurant. Ultimately, I ended up straying from my plans to go to culinary school, but the trip to Moosewood was definitely inspirational, and who knows, maybe one day I’ll still open a restaurant. For now, I plan on continuing to put Moosewood’s cookbooks to use in order to help develop my cooking skills while juggling going to school for journalism at a regular college. Clearly I have more than enough Moosewood recipes to last me for a couple of years!
Below you will find one of my all-time favorite Moosewood recipes. The recipe, Gypsy Soup, is layered with an array of flavorful spices and makes for a perfect wintertime dish. Serve with a side of cornbread, and the meal is even better.
-3-4 Tbs. olive oil (I usually use 2-3)
-2 cups chopped onion
-2 cloves crushed garlic
-2 cups chopped, peeled sweet potatoes or winter squash (I like to do a cup of each)
-1/2 cup chopped celery
-1 cup chopped, fresh tomatoes (I sometimes substitute canned tomatoes for this)
-3/4 cup chopped green or red peppers
-1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
-3 cups stock or water
-2 tsp. paprika
-1 tsp. turmeric
-1 tsp. basil
-1 tsp. salt
-Dash of cinnamon
-Dash of cayenne (I like to do a couple dashes)
-1 bay leaf
-1 Tbs. tamari
Directions: In a large saucepan saute onions, garlic, celery, and sweet potatoes in olive oil for about five minutes. Add seasonings except tamari, and the stock or water. Simmer, covered, fifteen minutes. Add remaining vegetables and chickpeas. Simmer another 10 minutes or so until all the vegetables are as tender as you like them.