Chef’s Take: David Patterson’s Indonesian Stir-Fry at Natural Epicurean

Take a glance around the airy dining room at Natural Epicurean — the health-minded restaurant at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo. — and you may be surprised to find diners perusing tablets, not menus. The tablets are stocked with in-depth nutritional information, allergy alerts and gluten-free ratings for the menu developed by Sous Chef David Patterson with guidance from the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Health and Wellness Center. “A growing segment of diners are in tune with nutrition and diet, and they are reaching for our tablets, because they are looking to eat well, but they may have dietary restrictions,” said Patterson.

Patterson’s sustainable, locally sourced menu includes high-flavor plates like Steamed Steelhead Salmon with turmeric root, roasted tomato, lentils, ginger and garlic; Pavo Mole Negro Tacos with Colorado turkey, avocado, grilled corn and cilantro relish, cabbage and cotija cheese; Roasted Acorn Squash with cashews, cardamom, mint, and red lentils; and this fiery Indonesian Stir-Fry with tempeh, spinach, green beans, eggplant, ginger and toasted peanuts with chili-tamarind sauce.

“We are always looking for alternative protein sources since we don’t use a lot of red meat or pork,” said Patterson. “Tempeh is an Indonesian ingredient that’s really hearty and flavorful. We went with a stir-fry, tossing in what’s in season and what’s available, with lots of fresh ginger, garlic and dried chiles, which we have a lot of here in Colorado.”

For Patterson the priority on healthy dovetails with his vision as a chef. “We are not hemmed in by cooking healthier food,” he said. “We want to make really good wholesome food using local ingredients and organics.”

Indonesian Stir-Fry

Yield: 1 serving

1/2 cup tamarind paste, free of seeds

1 cup boiling water

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup mirin

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoon light olive oil

3/4 cup tempeh, diced large

3/4 cup eggplant, diced large

1/2 cup zucchini, diced large

1 cup green beans, trimmed, blanched

1/4 cup cherry tomatoes

1 tablespoon ginger, minced

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1 cup spinach leaves

Red chile flakes

Salt

Pepper

1/4 cup peanuts, roasted, chopped

Directions: Combine the tamarind paste and the boiling water, and cover to make a tea. Set aside.

Combine the soy sauce, mirin and rice wine vinegar. Set aside.

In a saute pan, heat the olive oil until it just begins to smoke. Saute the tempeh, browning it lightly, and reduce the heat if necessary.

Add the eggplant and zucchini, then saute until tender. Add the green beans and cherry tomatoes, and heat through.

Add the ginger and garlic, and saute until fully cooked, but not browned. Add the spinach and 1 tablespoon of the tamarind tea, and allow to reduce quickly.

Add about 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce mixture, along with red chile flakes, salt and pepper to taste, and allow to reduce quickly.

Sprinkle with the chopped peanuts.

Andrea Strong is a freelance writer whose work has appeared everywhere from The New York Times to Edible Brooklyn. She’s probably best known as the creator of The Strong Buzz, her food blog about New York City restaurants. She lives in Queens with her two kids, her husband and her big appetite.

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