Your Wellness Guide: Eat Your Veggies

Local restaurants step up their veggie game!
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Delaney Tavern’s Vegan Paella with saffron broth (COURTESY DELANEY’S TAVERN)

It wasn’t long ago that vegan and vegetarian diners struggled to find a restaurant menu that would suit their tastes. Meat was king. Veggies were relegated to salads or sides. But in recent years, plant-forward menus with creative culinary options have multiplied across Central Florida.

There’s Dharma Fine Vittles with its Carolina BBQ Pulled Jackfruit on Texas Toast and Crispy Brussels Sprouts, and  DaJen Eats serving Brown-Stew Braised Cauliflower and plant-powered Caribbean Crab Salad, made with hearts of palm.

Now, more restaurants are stepping up with creative renditions of menu mainstays. Delaney’s Tavern serves multiple plant-based dishes, such as its vegan paella. Executive Sous Chef Joe Dansereau says, “It sticks to paella’s traditional roots with a sofrito of roasted onions, artichokes, asparagus, jalapenos and poblano peppers and a homemade saffron broth with tomatoes.”

Home cooks who want to grill T-bones for a gathering and also please vegetarian friends can roast a delicious cauliflower “steak” or a portobello mushroom, says Certified Executive Chef Kevin Fonzo, co-founder of the Edible Education Experience.

“Brush it with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast it in the oven and serve whole—that is fantastic with some caramelized onions,” he says. Another “meaty” veg  Fonzo suggests is corn on the cob: “Smoke it and char it on a cast iron skillet over the fire, and it’s great with barbecue sauce.”  In-season roasted beets are a  favorite of his: “Roast them in the skin and slice them.” 

And don’t forget protein-rich beans. “I always try to incorporate beans or legumes,” Fonzo says. “People want different flavors and textures on their veggie plates.”

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