This is what I wish for. I wish we had beautiful vegetarian stacked enchiladas somewhere in Minneapolis. I either dream about something on a menu that doesn’t exist, or I fantasize about restaurants that should be. For example, Linden Hills needs a family friendly establishment with a big menu and full bar. They also need a soup and salad place that serves all organic selections buffet style – kids like to see what they’re getting and moms like healthy. When Jeff and I thought we were going to open a restaurant a few years back it was because what we love to eat does not exist in any Twin Cities’ restaurants.
Having lived and traveled throughout Latin America, my food cravings often involve corn tortillas, black beans, fresh fruits, vegetables and plantains! I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Latino and Mexican restaurants usually have nothing vegetarian. So, our restaurant concept was to be a vegetarian Latin fusion place with food inspired from South America, Central America, Mexico and the American Southwest. It would have been a neighborhood place, not stuffy but rather, family friendly, clean and comfortable.
From my perspective, the backbone of the Latin fusion concept is salsa and sauces. All over Latin America you can find condiments made from nearly every vegetable in existence. Some of the sauces are smooth and savory, others are fire-engine hot and some are sweet. Since the vegetarian base for this type of menu is mostly legumes and grains, the sauces provide not only flavor, but moisture and texture. Our idea was that with every plated meal, customers could choose three or four options from our selection of sauces or salsas.
I thought it might be fun to post the menu for the restaurant concept that never was, and challenge all of you to be creative. I’d love to see ideas for your ideal vegetarian menu wish list! Perhaps we can get some of those chefs out there to see food from our perspective!
Enough said. Here’s the menu.
- Chipotle roasted tomato and carmelized onion
- Green Chile tomatillo with roasted garlic
- Habanero white onion
- Fresh tomato ceviche with red onion, jalapeno, cilantro and lime
- Fresh mango ceviche with jalapeno, cilantro and lime
- Pineapple salsa in cilantro and lime with a hint of jalapeno
- Spicy Aji with piqiun peppers
- Chimichurri cilantro and parsley pesto with a hint of heat
- Fresh corn chips served with your choice of three salsas
- Black bean dip with melted Vermont cheddar and chips
- Chunky guacamole with avocado, apple and jalapeno
- Patacones – fried green plantains served salted with aji
- Pupusas – bean and cheese filled tortillas seved with your choice of salsa
- Ensalada Verde – Romaine topped with zesty cilantro lime vinaigrette and spicy croutons.
- Ensalada Fresca – Chunks of tomato, cucumber, jicama and green mango served with salted lime – like the snacks sold on busses in Guatemala!
- Frijol Negro – A filling salad of black beans, sweet peppers, corn and zucchini tossed in a cumin olive oil vinaigrette. Served with patacones (fried and salted green plantains)
- Enslada – I’m on Vacation – Fresh mango, papaya, pinapple and banana served with coconut almond dipping sauce.
- Blanco y Rojo – A rich, hearty soup of white and red beans infused with cumin and chipotle. Topped with a swoosh of crema and a dollop of cilantro lime pesto.
- Encebollada – A sensational stew from the coast of Ecuador. It’s a blend of carmelized onion and yucca. Served with Ecuadorian style aji.
- Green Chile – Black beans, green chiles, green peppers, corn, onions and roasted garlic. Served with cubes of Vermont cheddar and fresh cilantro.
- Cheese enchiladas – Three jack, chevre and cheddar stuffed corn tortillas topped with red or green chile and served on a bed of chopped romaine and cilantro.
- Enchiladas Blancas – Corn tortillas layered with white beans, provolone, and coconut rice. Topped with a light garlic cream sauce and toasted almonds. Served with cucumber jicama slaw.
- Enchiladas Verdes – A towering stack of white corn tortillas, black beans, and coconut green rice topped with green chile stew, crumbled feta and cilantro.
- Enchiladas del Diablo – Chipotle mock duck, carmelized onions and Vermont cheddar wrapped in corn tortillas and smothered in flaming hot roasted tomato red chile sauce. Served with a cooling side of cucumber jicama slaw.
- Enchiladas de Papa – Baked zucchini fritters layered with chipotle mock duck and smashed potato. Smothered in a mild red chile and topped with finely chopped romaine. Served with a dollop of crema.
- Flourless Chocolate Torte with a hint of cinnamon
- Tamarind Chile Layer Cake
- Mango Pineapple Cheesecake
- Coconut Orange Flan
There you have it. One of the restaurants of my dreams. It does not exist, but the recipes do. They are often served through my home kitchen, and I love every bite!
If you have a menu concept that you’ve been dreaming about, please share. I’m curious about what people want to eat when they go out and what you all think is missing from our local restaurants.
By the way, the name of the restaurant that never was is Bulla (pronounced BOOya) – this means “making noise” in Ecuador. People say to children, “No hagan bulla!” Stop making noise! I wanted to make a little noise about restaurants!