Fare Play: Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian
The restaurateur discusses the superfoods movement and offers healthful wine and food pairings perfect for spring.
To me, the promise of spring represents the dawn of a new day; a time to look ahead and start fresh. In the winter months, we tend to indulge in heavy comfort foods as a kind of warming effect, and who could blame us after all that snow? I think a great way to guide you into the new season is by resetting your mind and body with a diet of fresh, whole foods.
By definition, “superfoods” are ones that provide the most nutrients of all foods available. Incorporating such ingredients into your everyday diet can be challenging, but with the right recipes, it’s a no-brainer.
A superfoods menu is of interest to wine lovers because of the attention to detail in choosing the ingredients. Superfoods are conducive to pairing with a variety of wines, especially organic ones. In this way, the combination furthers the idea of healthful eating and drinking without sacrificing taste or quality.
A superfood wrap with quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), avocado, arugula and cracked olives can be prepared in advance for lunch. Quinoa is a South American grain considered to be a “complete protein,” containing all of the essential amino acids your body needs to build muscle. With twice the protein of regular cereal grains, fewer carbs and a dose of healthy fats, quinoa is a wonder food. But what’s great about quinoa is its addictive nutty flavor, not to mention it cooks up faster than rice.
Avocados contain healthy monounsaturated fats and potassium, which reduce cholesterol and help control blood pressure.
Organic Salmon with Crushed Cucumber & Date Salad, Lemon & Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a great dish to prepare following an afternoon enjoying the welcomed new warmth of the sun.
Salmon is a heart-healthy, protein-rich fish, but did you know that it’s also known to fight depression? It’s loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital in the treatment of depression.
Would you believe me if I told you that olive oil can cut belly fat? It contains unsaturated fats that lower your cholesterol levels by instructing your liver to flush fatty deposits from your body to prevent the buildup of fat.
Another great and simple way to enjoy superfoods is in a delicious smoothie. My daughters both love my Dark & Stormy Organic Berry Smoothie with açai, blueberry, pomegranate and Greek yogurt.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you’ve likely heard of açai. Harvested in the rainforests of Brazil, it possesses a remarkable concentration of antioxidants that help combat premature aging.
We all know and love blueberries. They are filled with vitamins and minerals which promote good health, including antioxidants to help shield skin against harmful free radicals.
Greek yogurt is triple-strained, meaning it has three times the amount of milk, making it an excellent source of calcium. It also has twice the protein of regular yogurt, whose probiotic content helps to strengthen immunity. Go for the full-fat version in the morning, so you can burn off the calories throughout the day.
Superfood Wine Pairing
Superfood Wrap with Quinoa, Avocado, Arugula & Cracked Olives
Ocone 2010 Falanghina (Taburno)
The winery is certified organic, and due to the soil and cooler temperatures, Ocone produces a wine that has aromas and flavors of fresh apple, apricot, pear and a touch of green tea. The alcohol and acidity are well balanced and pair fantastically with the superfood wrap.
Grilled Organic Salmon with Crushed Cucumber & Date Salad, Lemon & Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Domaine Dujac 2007 Morey-St.-Denis
This winery practices organic and biodynamic farming. Domaine Dujac’s Pinot Noir, from the village of Morey-St.-Denis, has aromas and flavors of soft cherry, raspberry, fresh-turned earth and a hint of clove from the oak barrels in which it is aged. The elegant acidity and understated alcohol make it a perfect match for the salmon.
Try these delicious superfood recipes:
Super Food Wrap
Courtesy of The Water Club, Atlantic City, New Jersey
½ cup cooked quinoa
¼ Greek yogurt
Juice of 2 lemons
1/8 cup olive oil
Sea salt, taste
Cracked pepper, to taste
4 large organic whole wheat wraps
¼ cup seedless unpasteurized green olives
1 large heirloom tomato, thickly sliced
1 avocado, peeled and sliced thick
Baby arugula leaves
In a bowl, combine the quinoa, yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and mix. Place wraps on a flat countertop, divide the green olives, heirloom tomatoes slices, avocado slices and arugula evenly among the wraps. Add the quinoa and yogurt mix on top of each wrap, and fold Burrito-style. Cut them on an angle into three even pieces.
Dark and Stormy Elixir
Courtesy of The Water Club, Atlantic City, New Jersey
¼ cup organic wild blueberry juice
1/8 cup organic blackberry juice
1/8 cup açai berry juice
¼ cup fresh organic pomegranate juice
1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon fresh ginger juice
1 fresh squeezed lime
1½ teaspoons organic blue agave nectar
6–7 berry-infused ice cubes, blueberry, raspberry (See recipe below)
Splash of seltzer
3 sprigs fresh mint leaves
To make the cubes: Arrange the berries in the compartments of an ice cube tray, top with spring water and freeze overnight.
To make the Elixir: Combine all juices, agave nectar and 2 mint leaves in a large shaker with 6–7 regular ice cubes and shake vigorously. Place the berry cubes in a tall highball
or Zombie glass. Drizzle a little agave over the cubes. Carefully strain the shaken elixir over the cubes, and then top with seltzer splash. Garnish with fresh a mint leaf.
Geoffrey Zakarian’s restaurants include The Lambs Club and The National in New York, Tudor House in Miami and The Water Club in Atlantic City, where he serves as culinary lifestyle consultant. As a television personality, Zakarian is a judge on Chopped and the 2011 winner of The Next Iron Chef, both on the Food Network. Geoffrey lives in New York City with his wife, Margaret, and their two children.