UPPER WEST SIDE — Bart Potenza was organic, vegan and mostly gluten-free way before any of those choices were trendy.
He brought that ethos to a chain of restaurants and cafes that launched 30 years ago on the Upper East Side. After the success of Candle Café and Candle 79, Potenza said he finally heeded the cries of Upper West Siders eager for their own version of the popular vegan restaurant.
The restaurant has an organic, farm-to-table menu and often "people don't even realize it's vegetarian," said Potenza.
They don't miss meat and dairy products because of the robust flavors in each dish, he said.
Potenza shared with DNAinfo the recipe for Candle Café West's Asparagus and Artichoke Salad with Lemon Tarragon Vinaigrette, part of its spring menu which was rolled out this month.
The two main ingredients — asparagus and artichoke — are in season now, have the same texture and complement each other, said Potenza.
The "tarragon pulls [the vegetables] together," and the "lemon is very compelling," Potenza noted of the herbal dressing.
SALAD INGREDIENTS (single serving)
Two handfuls of baby arugula
Several stems of asparagus
1 artichoke heart
1/2 a fennel bulb
3-4 cherry tomatoes
1 handful of pine nuts
2 parts grapeseed oil
1 part lemon juice
1/2 a small white onion
4 sprigs thyme, stems removed
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Instructions for Dressing:
1. Finely dice and sauté the small white onion
2. Whisk the ingredients together rapidly so that they emulsify.
Instructions for Salad:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and then toast pine nuts for five to ten minutes.
2. Shave fennel bulb with a mandolin slicer.
3. Trim the artichoke to reveal the heart, shave the heart with a mandolin.
4. Shave asparagus with a mandolin and then lightly steam.
5. Toss the arugula, fennel, asparagus and artichoke together.
6. Sprinkle salad with pine nuts.
7. Drizzle with lemon tarragon vinaigrette.
8. Place halved cherry tomatoes around the perimeter of the plated and dressed salad.