07/11/16 11:52am
Lukas Volger's vegetarian recipes are full of flavor and crunch. All photos: Spencer Starnes

Lukas Volger’s vegetarian recipes are full of flavor and crunch. All photos: Spencer Starnes

Brooklyn, as well all know by now, is home to an incredibly dynamic food community of adventurous chefs and makers. While the local food scene became known early on for its bacon-infused excess, a new crop of vegetable-driven restaurants and food businesses have bloomed in response to a demand for bright, lively flavors and lighter fare in recent years. We chatted with a few vegetable-obsessed makers whose products are delicious, nutritious and available in Brooklyn, for your snacking pleasure.

It took me more than a year—and hundreds of dirty pans—to come up with our brownie but it was worth it. Now I can eat dessert for breakfast if I want. And I often want to!

Pure Genius Provisions

If your sweet tooth tends to undermine your healthy eating habits, Nancy Kalish can relate. She founded Pure Genius Provisions after developing a chickpea-based recipe for brownies and chocolate chunk blondies, which both succeed in scratching that dessert itch without spiking your blood sugar.

Name: Nancy Kalish, founder and CEO, Pure Genius Provisions

What’s your favorite item that you make? Well, for me, the chocolatier the better. So I have to pick the first product I ever created, our Deep Chocolate Brownie. It doesn’t get more fudgy than that! You’d never know it was vegan and gluten-free.

Choco chickpea going in the oven in Nancy Kalish's Carroll Gardens apartment and test kitchen. Photo: Spencer Starnes

Chocolate chunk blondies go in the oven in Nancy Kalish’s Carroll Gardens apartment and test kitchen. Photo: Spencer Starnes

Where’s your kitchen? I do all my R&D in my home kitchen in Carroll Gardens where I have a multitude of mixers, dozens of baking pans, 50lb bags of chocolate chips, gallons of maple syrup and boxes of products in development. There’s barely any room for anything else. My husband is a saint! Our products are then produced in an gluten-free, allergen-free bakery.

Raw ingredients sit measured and ready to become brownies. Photo: Spencer Starnes

Raw ingredients sit measured and ready to become brownies. Photo: Spencer Starnes

How did you get here? I’m a former health journalist. So I’ve always known what to eat to be healthy. But I have a raging sweet tooth! I could never find a treat that really satisfied me and that I wouldn’t feel terrible about eating. So I got busy in the kitchen. It took me more than a year—and hundreds of dirty pans—to come up with our brownie but it was worth it. Now I can eat dessert for breakfast if I want. And I often want to!

Will you tell us something surprising that we probably don’t know about your sweets? Our brownies and blondies are made from more than 40% chickpeas (we’re talking the whole beans, not flour). (more…)

04/04/16 10:40am
Tagine is king at Chez Omar. Photo: Spencer Starnes

Tagine is king at Bar Omar. Photo: Spencer Starnes

As far as New York restaurant buzz goes, Bar Omar received relatively little attention when it opened in Williamsburg in February. There were a few brief write-ups, but not much else, a curious fact given the French-Algerian restaurant’s rich history. Owner Yasmina Guerda opened the restaurant as a sort of homage to Chez Omar, a popular restaurant in Paris that her father, Omar Guerda, started in the 1970s. Chez Omar was one of the first North African restaurants in Paris, and to this day, it’s packed with both local Parisians and tourists. (more…)

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11/23/15 8:19am
Jackfruit tacos are the new vegetarian thing. Photo: Regina Mogilevskaya

Jackfruit tacos are the new vegetarian thing. Photo: Regina Mogilevskaya

Before last week, I had never considered jackfruit tacos because I never knew such a thing existed. To be honest, I didn’t really know what jackfruit was. Turns out, it’s a tree fruit (the largest in the world!) native to South and Southeast Asia that has been quietly making a name for itself in vegetarian and vegan circles as a useful and potentially delicious ingredient. And jackfruit tacos do exist—at Toro Ironworks Kitchen & Bar in Greenpoint.

Chances are that if you’ve ever searched, “tacos near me” while standing on a corner in Greenpoint (you know who you are), you’ve come across Toro. Such is the case with me, as I’ve found myself in many a New York neighborhood not my own in pursuit of a quick and easy taco fix. The last time I was at Toro was a few summers back for chips, guacamole and a margarita, and I was surprised to walk in last week to see that the Tex-Mex menu was different than what I remembered. That’s because the restaurant’s ownership has since changed: a new owner took over the spot at the end of August and subtly changed the name from El Toro Taqueria to Toro Ironworks. The menu still revolves around traditional burrito-quesadilla-taco offerings, and there are some Mediterranean hints like a black bean hummus dip, but owner Sebouh Yegparian is also unveiling eccentric vegan options to appeal to a growing demand for meat-free options. (more…)