Restaurant Review: The Tomato Vine

Note: I was provided the food in this review at no charge from the Tomato Vine restaurant. All opinions are my own.

salad The Tomato Vine | Kale and Ale

The peanut dressing on this tofu and grain salad is amazing.

When the restaurant/catering/take-and-heat business The Tomato Vine contacted me about reviewing its food, I jumped at the chance. Having spent last summer looking at healthy, local and fresh catering options for my wedding, this would have fallen into that category.

The Tomato Vine focuses on seasonally, from-scratch meals, and has a lot of options that are clearly marked for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free meals. All ingredients are labeled, so you know exactly what’s in the food. (See the menu here.) Where possible they source local food. In short, they reached out to me because they prepare food the way I prepare food. I really respect that, for as much as I love cooking, sometimes I just want a break from cooking but I don’t want to sacrifice quality or my beliefs.

Food Options

In addition to the Tomatoes Vine’s set menu, there are weekly specials, and it’s clearly marked what can be modified for dietary needs.

Eating options include delivery or pickup (with heating instructions for later, served in nice Pyrex or disposable containers), a lunch cafe and catering. They focus on catering for corporate and private events.

Lunch options are a few hot choices, salads, sandwiches, sides, snacks and desserts.

My Review

The Tomato Vine | Kale and Ale

I tried a variety of food, all clearly marked with ingredients and cooking instructions.

As I already mentioned, ingredients and heating instructions are on the label for each meal (which I love, easy to find and see what is in it or to do). I tried a variety of foods:

  • Tarragon grain cakes with apricot chutney
  • Spicy peanut tofu salad
  • Veggie fried rice
  • Red pepper hummus with veggies and chips
  • Maple apple cobbler
veggie cake The Tomato Vine | Kale and Ale

Tarragon cakes full of grains and tofu.

That night I ate the cakes, and my first impression really was that it is something I would make: Simple with good flavor from real food. I loved that the ingredients it included were easy to taste, and it didn’t include extra ingredients or flavors. The tofu and grain mix that is the base of the cakes was really good, it was also in the salad.

Speaking of the salad, the dressing was my favorite thing I had. I took the salad as a work lunch the day after getting the food, since it was on a plastic container. I tried to figure out (with no luck) how to recreate that dressing. Topped with fresh veggies, it was a hearty, filling and flavorful salad.

I make and eat a lot of hummus and the thing that can make or break it is texture. It had a nice consistancy, smooth yet it wasn’t overly processed, so I loved that the texture was a little chunky, the way I like guacamole or salsa. I’ll have to remember to leave it like that the next time I make hummus.

I’m not a big dessert person, as readers of this blog and anyone close to me knows, but this dessert hit the spot. The sweetness is derived from the maple syrup and cooked apples, and the topping was browned and crunchy, contrasting the soft cobbler underneath.

If I’m looking to cater, I would consider and recommend The Tomato Vine, as they are knowledgeable and accommodating on diet, while using seasonal, wholesome foods.

The Tomato Vine

7134 Shady Oak Road, Eden Prairie, Minnesota 55344

Phone: 952-941-1699

Website: www.thetomatovine.com

Facebook: facebook.com/TheTomatoVine

Pulled Pork Stuffed Avocado

Pulled Pork Stuffed Avocados Herbivorous Butcher | Kale and AleThis weekend I made pulled pork stuffed avocados, and they were a tasty, vegan and gluten free success. Yes, you read that right. That’s because my pulled pork is made of jackfruit, a popular food that had The Guardian asking last year if it’s the next big food craze, and includes a recipe on how to prepare it.

Pulled Pork from Herbivorous Butcher | Kale and AleJackfruit is the largest tree-borne fruit, native to South Asia and is a popular food in tropical regions around the world. Often sold in the U.S. in cans at Asian markeets, it is becoming a popular substitution for meats. My pulled pork (with gluten-free chipotle sauce) came from the first vegan butcher in the U.S., Minneapolis’ own Herbivorous Butcher. If you haven’t been and you are in the area, GO! If you aren’t in the area, COME VISIT! If neither of those is possible, you could substitute with real pork (if you eat pork), this jackfruit recipe, this seitan reipce, this stewed carrots recipe or this eggplant recipe.

OK, so now we know what jackfruit is and have a pulled whatever planned. This recipe works because there aren’t many ingredients, it’s quick to assemble (perfect for a weeknight), has fresh flavor and feels more difficult/fancy than it is.

Sauteed avocado | Kale and Ale
Seriously, the flavor is popping, thanks to unexpected surprises like giving avocado a saute in coconut oil to enhance the buttery flavor and a crisp texture, and a tangy vinaigrette to balance the smoothness of the pork and avocado. This recipe really involves heating things through and blending the vinaigrette, and then stacking for a flavor explosion.

Pulled Pork Stuffed Avocados Herbivorous Butcher | Kale and Ale
Pulled Pork Stuffed Avocados
Print Recipe
This meal is quick to pull together on a busy night and features bursts of flavor.
Servings Prep Time
2 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Pulled Pork Stuffed Avocados Herbivorous Butcher | Kale and Ale
Pulled Pork Stuffed Avocados
Print Recipe
This meal is quick to pull together on a busy night and features bursts of flavor.
Servings Prep Time
2 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Ingredients
Pulled Pork Avocado
Cilantro Vinigrette
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil over medium heat. Use a cast-iron skillet if you have it, it will help the avocado to get the best crust.
  2. Season the avocado to taste. Put it into the heated skillet, browning a few minutes per side. When done, set it on paper towels to drain excess oil.
  3. Turn the heat to low. Saute the onions until translucent, about three minutes.
  4. Add the pork to the pan and heat through. Set aside.
  5. For the vinaigrette, place all items in a blender and blend until smooth.
  6. Place two avocado slices on a plate, add half the pork mix and top with cilantro vinaigrette. You will have leftover vinaigrette, which is delicious with corn chips.
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Eggplant Parmesan Dip

Eggplant Parmesan dip logo | Kale and Ale

Eggplant Parmesan dip

I love to snack. A lot. Like, too often. I enjoy savory snacks, crunchy, spicy and creamy snacks. Hummus with crackers or carrots is my go-to, but all kinds work. A tapas-style dinner is always my favorite kind. Speaking of, dinner-inspired dips always win. Speaking of, my favorites right now are pizza dip and buffalo-cauliflower dip.

Inspired by these, I came up with this eggplant Parmesan dip. I love eggplant, but it’s often difficult to make at home, often coming out with mixed responses. But this dip is consistent with depth of texture and flavor, creamy and comforting, giving people with strong willpower no reason to stop!

This recipe is vegetarian and gluten-free (as long as you aren’t using crackers to dip) and has little hands-on time, only 15 minutes. It tastes exactly like eggplant Parmesan as a snack and treat.

Eggplant Parmesan dip 3 | Kale and Ale
Eggplant Parmesan Dip
Print Recipe
The perfect appetizer or party version of a classic Italian dish, this is vegetarian and gluten-free, warm and comforting.
Servings Prep Time
2 people 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 people 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 10 minutes
Eggplant Parmesan dip 3 | Kale and Ale
Eggplant Parmesan Dip
Print Recipe
The perfect appetizer or party version of a classic Italian dish, this is vegetarian and gluten-free, warm and comforting.
Servings Prep Time
2 people 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 people 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 10 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place eggplant in a colander and put salt on it to sweat out the liquid. After 10 minutes dry off the eggplant.
  3. Put the eggplant and garlic on a baking sheet, top with oil and salt and pepper. Place in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes until roasted. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees.
  4. Once roasted and slightly cooled, place in a food processor and pulse until mostly smooth.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine the eggplant and garlic with the marinara and cheese. Mix and put into an oven-safe bowl.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Once cooled somewhat or room temperature, serve with crackers or vegetables.
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Friday links

Hello, wonderful friends. Has this week been as much a struggle for you as it has for me? Living so far north, the time change means it’s dark when I wake up, making it much more difficult to get moving. Here’s hoping next week is easier!

via GIPHY

 

Beyond Vegetarian: More specific labels like “climatarian” and “reducetarian” can help people stick to their food choices by making them feel like part of a community. This is a really great article, as I am so often asked if I eat fish, chicken, etc. My answer (in my head) is always “no, I’m a vegetarain.” I believe the specific labels both explain ones diet and often the reason why they have that diet. What do you think of this often hot-button issue?

For my runner friends: 8 ridiculous things people say to runners. Question: How many of these have you heard? Answer: Too many!

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Are you thinking of planting a garden or joining a community supported agriculture program for the first time this year? If so, be sure to check out my guide on CSA and garden planning and steps.

No-bake peanut butter chocolate cookie | Kale and Ale

No-bake peanut butter chocolate cookie

If you are looking for an easy vegan and gluten free dessert, make this: No-bake peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies. I made them for a work lunch yesterday and they were easy to  make and crazy tasty.

Have you signed up? I am starting a newsletter, sure to be the easiest way to stay updated on new Kale and Ale blog posts and happenings. With a few fun things planned for the spring, now is the time to get on the list and make sure you don’t miss anything! Sign up here.

Recipe: Roasted Brussels sprouts and cranberries

Roasted Brussels sprouts and cranberries | Kale and Ale

Roasted Brussels sprouts and cranberries

I really love cranberries, especially fresh, but I don’t seem to eat them except around the end of the year. Since I see them in the store at a great price, I grab them without knowing how I will use them or what I’ll make. Enter a food I’m trying to eat more of: Brussels sprouts.

RELATED: Make cranberry salsa out of leftover cranberry sauce.

Brussels sprouts can be bitter and cranberries are tart, so there is a balsamic and maple syrup glaze to bring a nice balance to all the flavors without one overpowering any of the others. The beauty is this only takes about 30 minutes start to finish, or even less if you are like me and bought a bag of shaved Brussels sprouts.

This is a healthy, flavorful side dish that brings together the flavors and colors of the season.

Roasted Brussels sprouts and cranberries | Kale and Ale
Roasted Brussels sprouts and cranberries
Print Recipe
A healthy, flavorful side dish that brings together the flavors and colors of the season.
Servings Prep Time
4 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Roasted Brussels sprouts and cranberries | Kale and Ale
Roasted Brussels sprouts and cranberries
Print Recipe
A healthy, flavorful side dish that brings together the flavors and colors of the season.
Servings Prep Time
4 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Spread the Brussels sprouts evenly on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes or until slightly crispy, stirring halfway through.
  3. Place cranberries in a baking dish. In a small bowl mix maple syrup and vinegar together and pour over cranberries. Put it in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, stirring and cook for 5-10 more minutes, until sauce thickens and cranberries open.
  4. Mix together Brussels sprouts and cranberries and top with nuts or seeds, if using.
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