The new version of Canada’s Food Guide says we should fill half our plates with fruits and vegetables. In fact, it’s mostly a visual guide, devoid of serving sizes used in the past.
And that strong image, show below, was photographed by Ottawa’s own Christian Lalonde of Photolux Studio, who has done a lot of food photography for Ottawa Magazine over the past decade.
This all got us thinking about the exciting plant-forward dishes being served in Ottawa restaurants. So we brought Lalonde on for a beautiful — and hopefully useful — photoessay/recipe roundup. Lalonde brought his own interpretation to the project, choosing to show the raw ingredients alongside the finished dish, furthering the cookbook look.
In this post, Adam Vetterol of North & Navy shares his recipes for peperonata, a spelt risotto, and pan-seared trout.
“I feel like Italian food lends well to this kind of eating,” says Vetterol. “Meat was prohibitively expensive for most of Italian history, so many of the classic recipes feature it as an accent rather than the main attraction.” Rather than stewing the vegetables together, in this peperonata, each vegetable is treated separately to get the most out of it. The colourful dish is accompanied by a spelt risotto and a fillet of pan-fried trout. While the Italian tradition would suggest eating the risotto first as a “primi,” followed by the vegetables and fish, however you eat it, these elements create a healthy, balanced meal.
Also in this series:
Melanie Boudens’ recipe for coconut-crusted tofu
5 bell peppers
1 medium sized eggplant
1 white onion
3 garlic cloves
3 large tomatoes
1 cup white wine
Half a cup capers
3 tbsp of vegetable oil
Dice everything into small perfect cubes
Trim the peppers of white
Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot on high. Add eggplant and season with salt, cooking until golden brown, then remove from the pot and set aside.
Reduce heat and add onions, cooking for 10 minutes while stirring frequently so they do not caramelize — reduce heat if needed.
Add tomatoes, capers, garlic, anchovy, and wine. Cook until most of the liquid evaporates.
Add cooked eggplant, peppers, and zucchini. Cook for no more than 5 minutes, stirring constantly. The goal is to incorporate the peppers and zucchini, but do not overcook (otherwise all that time spent dicing will be wasted, as they will lose their shape). They should still have some crunch.
Remove from heat and let cool.
1 cup spelt
5 cups salted water
5 cups vegetable stock
1 cup white wine
1 onion finely chopped
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
Bring salted water to a boil. Add spelt and cook for 10 minutes. Strain and set aside.
Bring vegetable stock to a simmer.
In a heavy-bottomed pot, sweat the onions in canola oil until translucent. Be careful not to brown.
Add the spelt and stir with a wooden spoon.
When the spelt beings sticking to the bottom of the pot, add wine and keep stirring.
Once the wine evaporates, begin adding ladles of hot vegetable stock stirring constantly. Repeat until the spelt is al dente.
Remove from heat and stir in the butter and parsley.
Season with salt
For the Trout
We crisp the skin of the trout in a pan because we like the flavour and crunch — but the dish would be perfectly tasty if the fish was baked. To get nice crispy skin on fish, remove the scales and then score it 3 or 4 times. When the skin hits the hot pan it contracts. If you slice through he skin (but not so deep that you ruin the flesh) it will prevent it from curling the fish and ending up with an uneven cook. The other trick we use is to place the fish in the fridge uncovered for a few hours to dry the skin out. If the skin is nice and dry it will crisp up and not spit hot oil all over the place.
Salt the fish heavily
Heat a well-oiled pan on high, but not so hot that the oil smokes
Carefully place the fish in the pan, skin side down
Cook for about 3-5 minutes. Using a spatula, peek at the skin — if it’s golden brown, flip it over and cook for another 3-5 minutes. If it needs more time don’t rush it. If you try to flip it too early it will stick to the pan and ruin the skin.
Remove from heat and squeeze half a lemon over it