At Boqueria, one of New York City’s most-popular Spanish tapas joints, Chef Marc Vidal goes a long way to transport diners to Barcelona’s bustling and beautiful Boqueria market. He serves a menu of Spanish classics like patatas bravas, albondigas, croquetas and gambas alla ajillo. But he also loves to cook with the seasons. Every Friday morning, Vidal grabs a cup of coffee and heads to the Union Square Greenmarket where he and his team of chefs meet up to peruse the stalls for ingredients and brainstorm for the restaurant’s ever-changing Market Menu. “We just walk around and see what’s going on,” says Vidal, whose parents were restaurateurs in Barcelona. “The market menu is the fun part for us. It’s our chance to be creative and work with the seasons.”
In these chilly days of late fall, Vidal’s market menu includes dishes like Calabaza Asada (roasted delicata squash with aged Mahón cheese, pistachio vinaigrette, arrope and sage), Crudo de Lenguado (fluke crudo with orange, zucchini, basil and pistachios), Raya al Ajillo (skate wing with toasted garlic, almonds, piquillo peppers and capers) and this rustic Ensalada de Berza y Zanahoria (kale tossed with cumin-roasted carrots, pomegranate, sunflower seeds, labne yogurt and citrus dressing). “I am definitely thinking about health when I cook,” said Vidal. “We always use raw ingredients in a dish, we grill fish, and we use lots of olive oil, but that’s the Spanish way.”
Ensalada de Berza:
3 baby rainbow carrots
1 pinch of cumin toasted and ground into powder
3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds, toasted in oven and salted
1 bunch Tuscan kale, cut in thin julienne
4 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 tablespoons Citricos Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place the carrots (skin on) in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, salt and cumin. Place them in a sheet tray lined with foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool and slice carrots into 1/2-inch pieces. Reserve.
In a mixing bowl, toss carrots, pomegranate, and sunflower seeds with a pinch of cumin. Add kale and drizzle with Citricos Vinaigrette. Mix and season with salt to taste. Spoon yogurt on a plate and add the salad on top. Serve.
Yield: 2 cups
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 clove garlic
1 cup Arbequina olive oil (or other good quality olive oil)
Salt and fresh ground pepper
Combine all ingredients in blender except oil, process until smooth. With the motor is running, drizzle in oil until completely incorporated.
Andrea Strong is a freelance writer whose work has appeared everywhere from The New York Times to Edible Brooklyn. She’s probably best known as the creator of The Strong Buzz, her food blog about New York City restaurants. She lives in Queens with her two kids, her husband and her big appetite.