By Dawn Watson
As a rule, vegetarians are generally fairly flexible. They have to be, if they want to dine out at most restaurants.
Over the past few years, though, it’s become a bit easier for non-meat eaters to enjoy a meal out. Due to increased demand, both vegetarian and vegan choices have grown at many restaurants here in the Hamptons and on the North Fork.
There are a few places on the East End that specialize in offering a large variety of plant-based food options, such as Fresh in Bridgehampton. But many eateries, even steakhouses and diners, offer at least one vegetarian or vegan dish. And as more and more people opt for vegetable-based diets, expect to see restaurants bringing larger numbers of meat-free dishes to the table, quite literally.
In and around Sag Harbor, options abound at places like the Harbor Market, Estia’s Little Kitchen, Page at 63 Main, Baron’s Cove and even Bay Burger.
There are a ton of non-animal-based foods at Harbor Market, which offers a rotating selection of approximately 20 vegetarian and vegan salads in chef specialties, daily vegetarian soups and made-to-order menu items. Popular choices include the hand-made corn tortilla with pureed black beans, avocado, pico de gallo, queso fresco, and a fried farm fresh egg and the vegan breakfast bowl, which has scrambled tofu, roasted tomatoes and leeks, quinoa salad and tempeh bacon.
At Estia’s Little Kitchen customers crave Mr. Farmer’s Breakfast — a tofu scramble with grilled mixed vegetables, salsa, black bean tacos and guacamole — named for summertime favorite customer Peter Farmer. They also come in and rave about the Shakshuka — a twist on a baked nightshade vegetable dish by Yotam Ottolenghi — with carrots and zucchini with potatoes and tomatoes in a green curry, topped with poached eggs.
Popular dishes at Page at 63 Main include buckwheat soba noodle stir-fry with baby bok choy, mushrooms, garlic and mirin-soy broth and the organic lacianato kale salad with roasted butternut squash, pickled mushrooms, Maytag bleu cheese and white balsamic vinaigrette.
Baron’s Cove has a few vegetarian options, and the restaurant even does vegan. In demand is the seasonal local squash, sweet corn & chick pea cakes, made with chickpeas, sesame seeds, garlic, lemon, local autumn squash, baby arugula and roasted tomato-lemon sauce.
Bay Burger offers a made-from-scratch falafel patty made from ground chickpeas, garlic, flour, fresh herbs and Middle Eastern spices, served on a homemade grilled flatbread with shredded lettuce, tomato, cucumber, tahini and hot sauce. There’s also a homemade veggie burger, comprising black beans, corn, bell peppers, brown rice, egg, four and spices, served on a homemade bun with whatever cheese and veggies the customer chooses.
In Bridgehampton, the menu at Fresh is packed with vegetarian and vegan selections — from straight up grilled vegetables to an Asian-style soba noodle primavera with organic vegetables
sautéed in coconut oil with garlic, ginger, soy and hoi sin
broccoli, mushrooms, organic greens and seasonal vegetables. Almond offers Meatless Monday — featuring a three-course vegetarian meal, plus other eats, such as Buffalo-style cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and a ramen mushroom dashi with cabbage, broccoli, fried egg, shitakes, and sriracha.
Farther east, there’s the Harbor Grill in East Hampton, which has a nice flatbread selection, including a caramelized onion and mushroom flatbread with sweet onions, sautéed mushrooms, ricotta, mozzarella and truffle oil. La Fondita has an entire section devoted to vegetarian options, including dishes made with “the Mariachi mix” of vegetables — red peppers, poblano peppers, roasted butternut squash mushrooms, black beans, onions and chick peas — in tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tostadas, salads and nachos.
At Nick & Toni’s the menu is stacked with vegetable choices, including the zucchini chips and the hand-cut papardelle with greenmarket spinach, grilled local oyster mushrooms and walnuts. Rowdy Hall serves up in-demand entrees, such as the kale salad, vegetable lasagna, vegetarian chili and a good amount of other vegetarian starters and salads.
On Shelter Island, Vine Street Café offers vegetarian and vegan for dining and market items. The vegan bolognese (made with mushrooms) can be ordered to dine-in and house-made sauce is also available by the jar. There’s also a vegan take on grilled miso salmon, made with tofu, and the restaurant’s famous spicy bar nuts.
Travelling to the North Fork, The Frisky Oyster in Greenport offers an ever-changing selection of vegetarian items, including the vegetable pho with rice noodles, and even serves up a vegan tasting menu. Caci in Southold serves up an elegant radicchio trevigiano salad with pear, gorgonzola cheese and pomegranate dressing and an in-demand acquerello risotto with seasoned mushrooms and imported white Alba truffle sauce.
There’s much more vegetarian and vegan fare to be enjoyed throughout the North and South Forks. Feeling adventurous? Take a meat-free tour and discover the plentitude for yourself.
Calabazitas en Crema
Created by La Fondita in Amagansett
2 Tbs. oil
1 tsp. butter
2 lbs. green zucchini, medium dice
1/3-cup onion, medium dice
1/3-cup Beefsteak tomato, medium dice
2 ears sweet corn, cut off the cob
1-cup heavy cream
To taste queso fresco, crumbled
To taste salt & pepper
Heat oil and butter in a saucepan over medium heat and sauté the onion until it looks transparent. Add zucchini, corn kernels and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, reduce heat to low, cover and cook until zucchini begins to soften.
Add cream and cook until the cream reduces by a third. Serve sprinkled with crumbled queso fresco.
By Chef Marco Pellegrini of Caci North Fork
For the Truffle sauce:
¼ lb. Umbrian black truffles, grated on a small microplane
3-cups Italian olive oil
3-cloves fresh garlic
Dash of salt and pepper
- In a medium sized pot add the olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
- On medium heat allow the garlic to infuse into the oil, you will see a few bubbles start to rise to the top, continue to let infuse for 3 to 4 minutes. It is important that the garlic does not overcook and turn brown.
- Strain the oil and allow the oil to reduce in temperature. Put the grated truffles in a large bowl and add the infused oil.
- Stir the mixture until well combined, add more olive oil if needed.
For the Pasta:
650-grams “00” flour
350-grams Semolina flour
300-grams warm water
Dash of salt
2 Tbsp. of truffle oil
- In a stand mixer mix together the “00” flour, semolina flour, salt and truffle oil mixture. When the flour is well combined, make a well in the center of the bowl and add the water. Combine the ingredients on low, until the mixture is well combined and forms a dough consistency.
- Cover the dough in plastic wrap and set aside to rest for 20 minutes. This will allow the dough to become softer and create a stronger truffle aroma.
- When the dough is soft, sheet through a pasta machine. Starting with a higher setting and gradually decreasing the settings to a 1/8” thickness.
- Fold each sheet of pasta to make it easier to cut into ribbons and dust with semolina between each fold. Cut the folds to the thickness of Taglierini, which is about a 1/8” thick. Run the pasta through your fingers to separate any pieces that may be sticking together.
Boil water in a large pot and add a generous amount of salt before dropping the pasta. In the meantime have a medium saucepan with some of the truffle mixture ready before the pasta is finished cooking. Turn the heat on for a couple of minutes just to warm the oil, but not long enough to risk over cooking the truffles. Keep checking the pasta for desired bite, however the pasta will take about 2 to 4 minutes to cook depending how al dente you prefer. When the pasta is finished cooking, remove the pasta from the water (without straining) and add directly to the truffle oil (this allows some of the cooking liquid to stay). If the sauce is too thick, add some of the pasta water. Finish with salt and pepper to taste, and parsley for garnishing.