Part of why I love what I do is because of the people I meet along the way. Boston has a great food community and I’ve been lucky enough to meet many amazing people involved in it from bloggers and food writers to some truly amazing chefs. Last week I had the pleasure of not only meeting Chef Todd Heberlein from Wilson Farm, but I also had the pleasure of attending one of his “From Farm to Fork” cooking classes. The event was a 5-course tasting menu focusing on healthy winter eating and the recipes certainly did not disappoint. Our menu for the night included: pumpkin hummus, red quinoa salad with citrus + avocado, spiced lentil soup, mushroom, kale + squash lasagna and quinoa cake with pomegranate citrus sauce. But beyond all the amazing food was one amazing chef.
The first thing that struck me about Chef Todd was his passion for food. And for Wilson Farm. The farm, which is located in Lexington, has been in business for 127 years and grows everything from fruits and vegetables to herbs and flowers. Chef Todd has been the head chef at Wilson Farm for the last nine years and it’s obvious to see that he loves what he does. Being in charge of the farms always-busy kitchen, which produces homemade take-home appetizers, side-dishes and complete meals might be enough but he also offers cooking demonstrations and classes at the farm as well. Here, he’s able to showcase his almost twenty years in the business as he shares his ideas on how to enjoy some of New England’s finest locally-grown produce.
I had a wonderful sampling of the best Wilson Farm has to offer and enjoyed each course along with my good friend Brian, The Gringo Chapin (who let me use his photo of Chef Todd). We savored every morsel of every dish, and left longing for more. Chef Todd was as entertaining as he was informative and the night couldn’t have been more fun. So much so that I’m already looking forward to my next class.
Here are two of my favorite dishes from the night, courtesy of Chef Todd and Wilson Farm:
This is some of the most addicting hummus I’ve ever had.
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
2 cups puréed roasted pumpkin or squash
1 15-ounce can cannellini (white) beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Place pumpkin seeds in a food processor and grind until minced. Add remaining ingredients and purée until evenly mixed.Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Makes approximately 5 cups.
mushroom, kale + squash lasagna
2 butternut squash, peeled and seeded
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound mixed mushrooms (buttons, portobello or wild), chopped
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 bunch kale, thinly sliced
3/4 cup sherry
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup asiago cheese, grated
2 tablespoons chopped thyme
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
2. Cut thickest part of squash into 12 even squares (reserve bell and scrapes for another use).
3. Lightly coat squash with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a sheet pan and roast until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Set aside.
4. In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and season with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. To same pan, add another 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add onions and cook until softened. Add garlic and continue to cook for another 1-2 minutes, until lightly browned. Add kale and sherry and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 30 seconds then add a 1/2 cup of water, reduce heat to a simmer. Cover, and cook until just wilted. Strain liquid out and combine kale with mushrooms.
5. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, 1/2 cup asiago, egg and thyme and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
6. On a sheet pan, place 4 slices of squash. Spread a small amount of ricotta on top of each slice. Top with a small amount of kale mixture. Repeat until you end up with third piece of squash on top. Sprinkle remaining asiago on top of each and bake for 10-12 minutes, until just browned.