News & Politics

Thanksgiving Menus: Morou Ouattara’s Vegan Menu

One might expect complex, futurist constructions from the forward-thinking chef of Signatures. Here he shows his homey side, with dishes such as black-eyed-pea-and-pumpkin fritters, which are surprisingly easy to make. Besides the fish and dessert, everyt

This article is from 2006's Thanksgiving Dining Guide. To see 2007's guide, click here.

Black-Eyed-Pea-and-Pumpkin Fritters
Serves six (makes 24 fritters)

3 cups dried black-eyed peas
1/2 cup water, plus more for soaking
1 cup canned pumpkin purée
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons scallions, chopped
1 teaspoon cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ginger, peeled and minced
Salt to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste
Vegetable oil for frying

Soak the black-eyed peas in water for at least a few hours or overnight. Rub the peas between your fingers to remove the skins, rinse and drain.

Put the black-eyed peas and pumpkin purée into a food processor and purée into a thick paste. Add 1/2 cup of water to form a smooth, thick batter and transfer to a bowl. Using a spoon, fold other ingredients except the oil into the batter and let stand a few hours.

Heat the oil in a deep fryer or in deep pan set over medium-high heat (the oil should reach 365 degrees). Using an ice-cream scoop, spoon the batter into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown about three minutes, turning frequently. Remove the fritters from fryer, dry them on clean towels and serve while warm.

Persimmon and Chestnut Soup
Serves eight

2 cups prepeeled chestnuts
3 apples
1/2 pound butter
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup garlic, chopped
10 persimmons, peeled and chopped
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 gallon vegetable Stock
1/2 teaspoon allspice (powdered)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon clove (whole)
Salt and white pepper to taste
Sugar to taste

Set the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the chestnuts and apples on a baking sheet and roast for ten minutes. Set aside.

Melt butter in a stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the persimmons, chestnuts, sweet potatoes and apples and cook for ten minutes more, still on medium heat. Add the vegetable stock. Increase the heat and when the liquid begins to boil, reduce it to a simmer.

Add the allspice, cinnamon, clove, and a pinch each of salt and pepper into persimmon-stock mixture. Heat slowly over medium heat, stirring until it reaches a simmer, but not a boil. Let simmer for 30 minutes or until the potato is tender. Remove from the stove and puree until smooth. Strain through a chinois. Season the soup with salt, pepper and sugar. Serve warm.

Pot-Roasted Monkfish
Serves six

1 large monkfish tail with bone
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 shallots, peeled
5 cloves garlic
2 fennel bulbs, cored and halved
1 bunch fresh thyme sprigs
1 bunch sage leaves
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed
Zest of 1 orange
1 orange, sliced crosswise (can use same orange as above)
1 cup apple juice
2 cups red wine
2 tablespoons Pernod
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Season the monkfish with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in roasting pan over medium heat. Add the monkfish to the oil and sear for about three minutes on each side, until golden brown. Add the shallots, garlic, fennel, thyme sprigs, sage leaves, and coriander. Sauté for five minutes, flipping midway through. Pour the red wine, apple juice, and Pernod over the fish, add the orange zest and slices, and transfer to the oven. Roast until the fish is cooked through, about 25 to 35 minutes, basting occasionally.

Braised Brussels Sprouts West African-Style
Serves eight

1/2 cup butter
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 large green pepper, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
3 pounds Brussels sprouts (about 36), stem and outer leaves removed
1 1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes, with juice
1 cup vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and green peppers and cook until the onion is translucent, stirring occasionally. Add the curry, garlic, and brussels sprouts. Cover and cook until the Brussels sprouts begin to brown, for about three to four minutes. Add the canned tomato, tomato juice, vegetable stock, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 45 minutes, until the mixture is nearly dry and the Brussels sprouts are very tender. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Collard Greens and Peanut Stew
Serves eight

1 pound collard greens, washed
2 quarts water
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
4 tablespoons tomato purée (recipe below)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 quart vegetable stock
2 cups unsweetened peanut butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Put the collard greens in a medium-large saucepan, cover with three cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Blanch for 15 minutes or until soft. Remove the pot from the heat, drain the greens, and transfer them into a blender. Pulse a couple of times but do not purée (consistency should be like chopped spinach). Remove from blender and set aside.

Warm a large saucepan over medium heat, add the oil, and cook the onion until translucent. Add the tomato purée and tomato paste and stir to mix. Cook for two minutes. Add the vegetable stock, peanut butter, salt, and pepper. Raise the heat to high and when it starts to boil, reduce it to medium, letting it simmer until the oil starts to collect on top. Add the collard greens and cook to desired consistency (like creamed spinach), about 25 minutes. Remove from heat. Season to taste.

Tomato Purée
2 medium onions, quartered
6 tomatoes, whole
water for boiling

Put the onion and tomatoes in a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook for five minutes or until onion is soft. Remove from the heat, let cool, and transfer to a blender. Purée until smooth. Remove from blender and set aside.

Pumpkin Panna Cotta With Sweet Potato Chips
Makes 12 servings

Pumpkin Panna Cotta
5 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons powdered gelatin (preferably Knox)
3 3/4 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups 10X sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 tablespoon grated ginger
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin purée
12 paper cups, lightly greased with vegetable oil

Pour the water in a bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Place all remaining ingredients except for the pumpkin in a pot set over low heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, then bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and add to the gelating mixture. Cool slightly, then stir in the pumpkin purée. Strain the mixture and pour into paper cups. Refrigerate three to four hours.

Sweet Potato Chips
1 sweet potato
16 ounces vegetable oil, for frying
Confectioner’s sugar, as needed

Peel the sweet potato and slice into very thin circles using a mandolin. Heat the oil in a deep fryer or large pot and deep-fry the chips until light brown. Drain on paper towels, let chips dry, and dust with powdered sugar.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.