ANDREW WEIL was 66 years old when the first of the True Food restaurants he’s a partner in opened, in 2008. The founder of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and author of multiple bestsellers on wellness is perhaps the leading champion of an anti-inflammatory diet, and lest that sound anti-delicious, think again. Enter “True Food: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure,” the cookbook to empower us to create it at home. After buying and enjoying “True Food,” released last October, I asked if I could share a recipe—specifically the restaurant’s signature dish, for a Tuscan kale salad enlivened with mashed garlic, red pepper, shaved Parmigiano and toasted bread crumbs. I also bought two more copies to share with you.
Weil is a keen cook, and it shows in the not-hippie, not-boring, not-weird cuisine that he created with Sam Fox, the founder of the partner restaurant corporation, and Michael Stebner, the executive chef of their now-six-and-counting restaurants. Their approach, whether serving patrons or cookbook readers: “globally inspired cuisine,” and also “delicious food that is also good for you.”
As I have been since my 20s, Weil became a lacto-vegetarian in 1970, at age 28, but by the mid-1980s he added fish into his diet, which continued to evolve over the years. “True Food” (book or restaurant) features poultry and bison recipes as well, so non-vegetarians need not panic about coming away hungry. On that topic: I especially love the section called “The Problem of Proper Portions,” in which Weil writes about what’s “just enough.” In Italy, he says, a “serving” of pasta would fit into a teacup. Food for thought.
Nothing has the life cooked out of it, and the flavors sound positively vivid. I’m drawn in by such intensely colorful dishes as Fettucine with Kale Pesto; Sweet Potato-Poblano Soup; Curried Cauliflower Soup; or Braised Broccoli with Orange and Parmesan. Seafood Fideo (a Mexican soup with toasted pasta cooked into the broth) and Chicken Teriyaki (the first dish chef Stebner created when developing the restaurant menu) are just two of many ideas I’ll try when protein-hungry company is coming.
“True Food” invites us to rethink the entire day’s meals, from breakfast to dessert (and even beverages). A dairy-free Chocolate Pudding looks unsinfully sinful, and promises us it’s “a good way to enjoy the health benefits of chocolate.” Count me in on that health plan.
So what does Weil—who for many years had imagined such a place as “True Food”—think about the retirement-derailing venture?
“It’s never too late to realize a dream,” he says. I couldn’t agree more.
the ‘true food’ kale salad recipe
(from the cookbook “True Food: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure”)
Makes 8 servings
Here’s the signature dish of True Food Kitchen. People who never imagined eating raw kale quickly become devoted. Unlike most salads, this one gets even better in the fridge overnight. Make the extra effort to find Tuscan kale—also sometimes labeled as black kale, Russian kale, cavolo nero, or dinosaur kale—as its deeper color and more complex flavor really lift this into the salad stratosphere. –Andrew Weil
- 1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1⁄4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 garlic cloves, mashed
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 2 bunches kale (about 14 ounces), ribs removed and leaves sliced into 1⁄4-inch shreds
- 1⁄2 cup finely grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese (grated on a Microplane)
- 2 tablespoons toasted whole wheat bread crumbs
- Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese shavings, for garnish
1. In a salad bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and red pepper flakes. Add the kale and toss well to coat. Let the salad sit at room temperature for 10 to 30 minutes. Add the grated cheese and bread crumbs and toss again.
2. Garnish with the cheese shavings before serving. Cover any leftovers and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
how to win the cookbook
I BOUGHT TWO EXTRA COPIES of “True Food” to share with you. To enter to win, simply comment below, answering the question:
What’s your version of “healthy cooking”? Is there some food you’re eating more or less of, or some way you’re cooking that’s geared to wellness?
(My short answer: I’ve been a vegetarian since college years, and prefer foods in as whole a state as possible–meaning not processed.)
Nothing to share or just feeling shy? That’s fine. Simply say, “Count me in” or some such, and I will.
Two winners will be chosen after entries close at midnight Wednesday, February 13. Good luck to all.
(Photos and recipe copyright “True Food Kitchen: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure,” by Andrew Weil, MD, and Sam Fox, with Michael Stebner; published by Little, Brown and Company.) (Disclosure: Links to Amazon yield a small commission that I use to buy books for future giveaways.)