It’s April 15 — yay. Tax Day may seem an odd reason to party, but you know Miami, we celebrate anything.
April 15 offers plenty that’s party-worthy. It’s perfectly poised between World Health Day last week and Earth Day, a week from today.
Personal health and environmental concern, along with animal welfare, comprise the trinity of reasons people go meatless. In Miami, though, we like a dollop of exuberance atop our ethics. We’ve long been party central — except for the veg-minded, whose dining options have often meant a plate of defeated veggies slapped down with a sneer. That model doesn’t work anymore.
“Miami’s coming of age,” says Kris Wessel, chef-owner of Oolite in Miami Beach. Smiling, not sneering, Wessel is among a wave of local mainstream chefs to embrace “alternative ways of eating so you never have to sacrifice flavor.”
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Oolite’s menu is gluten-free. Though not exclusively plant-based, it offers a separate all-vegan menu. So does Sushi Samba in Miami Beach and Coral Gables. The culinary powers at Basil Park (Sunny Isles Beach) and Blackbrick Chinese (midtown Miami) also boast options everyone loves that happen to be plant-based (three sweet words: vegan dim sum).
Every eatery worth its salt these days offers veggie options that leave the tired vegetable plate in the dust. And if it doesn’t, speak up. Or take your business elsewhere.
There also are plenty of dedicated plant-based restaurants, from Temple in South Miami to Mi Vida in North Miami; Choices Café, feeding hungry vegans and vegetarians in Coral Gables and North Miami; and JugoFresh, with branches popping up almost everywhere. You can have your cake and eat it too, with vegan sweet treats from Bunnycakes and Peace a Cake.
So many accessible, yummy and happening meatless choices — that’s reason enough to keep the party going, and guess what? US VegWeek starts on Monday. Sponsored by animal rights advocacy nonprofit Compassion Over Killing, it’s a meatless celebration of enormous proportions. How big? Participating celebs include 300-pound vegan NFL player David Carter and even-larger Esther the Wonder Pig, 700-pound vegan spokeswine extraordinaire.
Join them and pledge to go veg for US VegWeek at usvegweek.com/endorsements. Do it for the animals, for the planet, for your health. Do it because it’s Tax Day.
There’s always something worth celebrating, and if you’re vegetarian or vegan, more places to do it in South Florida. That’s something to cheer about.
Ellen Kanner is the author of “Feeding the Hungry Ghost: Life, Faith and What to Eat for Dinner.”
Cucumber Quinoa Salad
Can’t make it to Oolite tonight? Oolite will come to you. Sort of. Try making chef Kris Wessel’s cool-as-a-cucumber cucumber quinoa salad. You can prep it hours ahead and add the lemon juice, chopped herbs and salt just prior to serving. Yee-hah.
3 cups quinoa, cooked and cooled (made from 1 1/2 cups dried quinoa)
2 ears fresh corn
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups cucumber, diced small (about 1 1/2 cucumbers)
3/4 cup fennel, diced small (1 fennel bulb, feathery greens saved for another use)
1/2 cup yellow pepper, diced small (about 1/2 pepper)
6 tablespoons champagne vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon kosher salt
In a small skillet, heat the 2 teaspoons of olive oil over high heat. Slice corn kernels off the cob and saute, stirring constantly, until the kernels are lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, the corn, cucumber, fennel, yellow pepper, vinegar and olive oil. Stir to combine. Finish with lemon juice, parsley, cilantro and salt. Mix through again. Makes 8 servings.
Source: Adapted by Ellen Kanner for Edgy Veggie from a recipe by chef Kris Wessel.