Cook Like a Pro: Philly Chefs Share Their Favorite Healthy Recipes

Get ready to throw down in the kitchen like a Philly pro.

Photography by Jillian Guyette

Photography by Jillian Guyette

Let’s face facts: We can’t all be born veggie-transforming culinary wizards like Vedge’s Rich Landau and Honeygrow’s David Katz — but we can learn a thing or two about throwing down in the kitchen from them. Over the next few pages, some of Philly’s best health-minded chefs (and one healthy-cocktail master!) spill on how they concoct their favorite guilt-free — yet still totally drool-worthy! — dishes at home. Your marching orders: Read up, then whip up a storm of chef-approved meals and a cocktail or two and call yourself a culinary wizard in training.

soba noodles

Photography by Jillian Guyette

Recipe: Soba Bowl with Shiitake Dashi and Market Greens
From: Rich Landau, Chef at V Street and Vedge
Serves 4

1 lb. greens, stems removed, large leaves chopped
4 bundles dried soba or udon noodles
8 c. shiitake dashi (see recipe below)
4 t. toasted sesame oil
2 T. chopped
scallions, white
and light green parts only
2 t. sesame seeds
½ sheet nori, cut into inch-wide strips with scissors

Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil over high heat. Blanch the greens for about 2 minutes. Use a sieve or tongs to transfer the greens to a plate. Leave the water boiling. Cook the noodles in the same boiling water according to the package instructions, typically 4 to 6 minutes for al dente.
In a large pot, bring the shiitake dashi up to a simmer. Meanwhile, divide the sesame oil among 4 serving bowls, then portion the greens on top of the sesame oil.
Drain the noodles into a colander and portion them directly on top of the greens. Ladle the shiitake dashi over the noodles. Garnish with scallions, sesame seeds and nori. Serve immediately.

Shiitake Dashi
Makes 3 quarts
2 c. dried shiitakes
¹∕4 c. tamari
2 oz. kombu seaweed

Combine the shiitakes, tamari, kombu and 4 quarts water in a large stockpot over high heat. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Strain, cool, and store for use as needed.

Tips from the chef: “I like to garnish this dish with nori and scallion, but I also like to add whatever I have on hand, like tofu, turnip, broccoli and mushrooms. Add some miso and Sriracha for a spicy miso broth, star anise, ginger and a cinnamon stick for a pho broth, or kimchi and gochujang for a funky kimchi stew.”

Credit line: Recipe from Vedge: 100 Plates Large and Small That Redefine Vegetable Cooking, copyright © Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby, 2013. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold.

mushroom toast

Photography by Jillian Guyette

Recipe: Asparagus and Mushroom-Bacon Toast
From: Rachel Klein, Chef at Miss Rachel’s Pantry
Serves 2

8 oz. asparagus
1 t. olive or coconut oil
Trumpet mushroom bacon (see recipe below)
4 slices bread
2 T. vegan pub cheese or red pepper hummus
1 c. greens
½ c. diced tomato
Salt to taste

Wash asparagus and cut off woody ends. (You’ll discard about 1.5 inches of asparagus that would otherwise be too tough to chew.) Slice in rounds from end to tip.
In a fry pan, warm oil over medium heat. Add asparagus rounds and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until they become a brighter green and start to brown on the edges. Remove from heat, sprinkle lightly with sea salt if you desire, and transfer to a bowl.
Let the trumpet mushroom bacon and asparagus cool while you make your toast.
Once your toast is golden, spread with pub cheese or red pepper hummus, then pile high with greens, asparagus, mushroom bacon and diced tomatoes. Devour and go to bed.

Trumpet Mushroom Bacon
2 t. cooking oil (coconut or sunflower works best)
1 c. chopped trumpet mushrooms
1 t. tamari
½ t. liquid smoke
1 t. agave nectar

In the same pan you cooked your asparagus in, warm the coconut or sunflower oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook 1 minute, allowing them to release some water. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the tamari and liquid smoke. Cook another 3 to 5 minutes, until just brown, mixing frequently. Once brown, remove from heat and incorporate the agave nectar. Allow to cool before adding to toast.

Tips from the chef: “I normally make this with a really seedy multigrain bread or challah. For greens, I’m loving the Thai basil microgreens from Blue Moon Acres in New Jersey, but sometimes I use micro arugula from Lancaster Farm Fresh. I change up the veggies with the season, but this is by far my favorite combo.”


Photography by Jillian Guyette

Recipe: Grilled Swordfish with Eggplant, Zucchini and Olive Tapenade
From: David Katz, Culinary director at Honeygrow
Serves 4

3 sprigs fresh thyme
¹∕4 c. kalamata olives, pitted
1 garlic clove
3 t. lemon juice
4 T. extra virgin olive oil (plus a drop extra for the tapenade)
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
4 6-oz. swordfish fillets
1 large zucchini
1 small eggplant
2 t. coarse sea salt
1 t. ground cumin

Strip thyme leaves from the sprigs and set aside. On a clean cutting board, chop the olives and garlic together as finely as you can. This should take about 3 minutes.
Put the olive-garlic mix in a small mixing bowl and add the thyme leaves, 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil. Stir well with a spoon and add kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Let sit until fish and vegetables are finished.
Drizzle swordfish fillets with 1 tablespoon olive oil, a sprinkle of kosher salt and black pepper. Grill on a hot grill, about 4 to 5 minutes per side, being careful not to let them burn. When the fish feels firm to the touch, after about 8 to 10 minutes total, remove to a plate while you fix the eggplant and zucchini.
Cut zucchini and eggplant into ½-inch-thick rounds. On a large plate, arrange the sliced vegetables in an even layer and drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil over them, turning to coat both sides. Season the slices with kosher salt, black pepper and cumin. Grill for about 5 minutes, turning 3 to 4 times, until tender but not mushy. Split the vegetables evenly among 4 plates.
Put fillets back onto the grill quickly to reheat, for just 1 minute per side. Place 1 fillet on each of the 4 plates, partially atop the vegetable slices. Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice evenly over each fish fillet. Sprinkle with sea salt to taste. Spoon some of the tapenade atop each fillet.

Tips from the chef: “The cornerstones of cooking in my home are olive oil, lemon, sea salt and the grill. We use a charcoal grill to enhance flavors of food, but a gas grill will work fine. For this dish, buy line-caught swordfish if possible.”

Recipe: Burmese Chickpea Curry
From: Andrea Kyan, Owner of P.S. & Co.
Serves 2

½ c. cold-pressed olive oil
2 large yellow onions, sliced
1 T. turmeric
1 T. chili pepper flakes*
½ t. sea salt (or to taste)
2 16-oz. cans chickpeas (unsalted) or 3 c. sprouted chickpeas
2 c. greens
*This curry is designed to be very spicy. Use fewer chili flakes if you’re sensitive to spicy food.

Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions, turmeric, sea salt and chili flakes and cook until onions are caramelized. Add the chickpeas to the pan. If using canned chickpeas, cook at medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring often. If using sprouted chickpeas, cook at medium-low heat for about 2 hours, stirring often. Once the beans are cooked, mix in greens. These curried chickpeas are great served on their own, but you can also serve them with brown rice, quinoa or flatbread for a more hearty dish.

Tips from the chef: “If you use canned chickpeas, this dish — my mom’s version of Burmese bean curry — will cook in under 20 minutes. That said, using sprouted chickpeas, which take a bit longer to cook, makes the flavor even better.”

Photography by Jillian Guyette

Photography by Jillian Guyette

Recipe: La Rosa Calida
From: Dan Hamm, Founder of Spirit Forward
Serves 1

½ oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 oz. freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
1 oz. triple sec
1 ½ oz. blanco tequila
1 or 2 dashes of habanero tincture, to taste

Pour all ingredients into a shaker, shake, then strain over fresh ice. Garnish with a grapefruit wheel.

Habanero Tincture
Habanero: 1 habanero pepper
1 c. vodka

Chop up habanero with seeds and steep in a glass with vodka overnight. Strain the vodka and bottle the mixture.

Tips from the cocktail guru: “This pink, flavor-packed margarita variation is one of my absolute favorite drink recipes with no simple syrup. If you want more heat, just steep the habaneros for longer than overnight.”

This article first appeared in the 2016 Be Well Philly print magazine. 

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