The Chef's Take: John Fraser's Grilled Squash Salad with Falafel Croutons

At Narcissa, André Balazs' and Michelin-starred chef John Fraser's buzz-worthy restaurant in The Standard Hotel in the East Village, ingredients are sourced from Balazs' Hudson Valley Farm, and seasonality shines on the menu. The result: food that's almost as beautiful as the people eating it.

Fraser, who just launched lunch in at Narcissa last week, explains that he tried to create a menu that would appeal to all kinds of appetites. "Some people indulge and want to eat and drink way too much, and others don't want to feel like they are going to spend the afternoon in a food coma," he said. "As I have gotten older, I have recognized that the way I eat dictates how I feel. I think about that when I create my menus."

To satisfy those who'd rather not be lulled into a deep sleep after lunch, he is serving these seasonal plates, ideal for the Soul Cycle set: blackened arctic char with strawberries and farm greens; grilled squid with shishito peppers, eggplant and chimmichuri; whole branzino, with smoked tomato vinaigrette and grilled romaine; and this inspired grilled squash salad with falafel croutons, and a yogurt cucumber dressing. "I love to have some warm bites in the salad from the falafel," said Fraser. "It's healthy, it's satisfying, and it's vegetarian. What could be better?"

Narcissa's Grilled Summer Squash Salad with Falafel Croutons

Yield: 4 servings
1 medium yellow squash, sliced
1 medium zucchini squash, sliced
Raita (recipe follows)
1/2 cup pickled white pearl onions, strained
1 Tablespoon toasted pine nuts
1 large heirloom tomato, cut into medium “chunks”
1/2 cup Castelvetrano olives, cut in half

1/4 cup lemon vinaigrette (equal parts fresh lemon juice and olive oil)

For garnish:
Frisee
Watercress
Falafel "Croutons" (recipe follows)
Method:
Toss yellow squash and zucchini in olive oil and grill, set aside
Smear raita (recipe below) on the base of your salad bowl
Add grilled squash and zucchini on top of the raita

Top salad with pearl onions, pine nuts, tomatoes and olives.

Dress the watercress and frisee with lemon vinaigrette.

Top salad with watercress, frisee and falafel "croutons."
Raita
Yield: About 2 cups
1/4 cup red onion, cut into a small dice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup cucumber, cut into a small dice
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
3/4 teaspoon garlic paste
3/4 teaspoon cumin
Salt, to taste
Method:

Macerate the red onion in lemon juice for 5 minutes or until they become bright red/pink.

Strain onions and keep lemon juice.

In a stainless steel bowl combine all ingredients except lemon juice and salt.

Mix well and adjust acid and salt to taste.

Falafel "Croutons"
Yield: Makes about 12 Falafel "Croutons"
1 cup garbanzo beans, canned
1 cup peas, frozen
1 cup fava beans, frozen
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch scallion
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
Salt, to taste
Method:

Pass cooked garbanzos, peas, fava beans and herbs through the small dye of the meat grinder.

Add spices and thoroughly combine.

Add panko to reach consistency that a round patty can be formed, about the size of a golf ball.

Adjust salt. Test one patty by frying.

Once satisfied with consistency and flavor, fry all the balls for the salad.

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