For Christmas this year, Isabel got me Bar Tartine. When I opened it, she immediately said that she regretted buying the book for me. She thought it looked good at first, but seemed to complicated, obscure and fussy for everyday cooking. I disagreed with her.
After owning the cookbook for several months now, I admit that – although I’ve flipped through it often – until last weekend had yet to make anything from it. The use of ingredients like black garlic powder, mushroom vinegar, pickled green walnuts and fermented honey make the book fun for weekend projects, but not very practical for everyday use.
This month’s issue of Bon Appetit included a recipe from the Bar Tartine cookbook: “Lentil Croquettes with Watercress and Kefir.” Reading over the ingredients, the recipe in the magazine seemed more accessible and easy than I remembered seeing in the book. I immediately got out my cookbook and compared. While the cookbook calls for “kombu dashi,” Bon Appetit’s version calls for vegetable broth. Fermented honey becomes regular honey, kerfir cream becomes kefir.
It wasn’t until I received this issue of Bon Appetit that I realized something about Bar Tartine: the recipes in the cookbook are written as they are prepared at Bar Tartine in San Francisco. If you prepare them as written, you will produce incredible, restaurant quality food – the type of food you think you could never make at home. I respect this book for that. April’s issue of Bon Appetit, however, made me realize that these recipes are highly adaptable for weeknight cooking. Don’t have black garlic powder? Regular garlic powder will probably work. Never heard of green walnuts? Normal brown ones should taste good too. Even though these more obscure ingredients may help elevate a recipe to a higher level, substituting more common ingredients will still produce delicious results.
Here, I’ve used Bon Appetit’s version of the recipe and adapted it a bit further to make it gluten free, dairy free and vegan. These sprouted lentil falafel use gluten free bread and a simple cashew “ricotta,” from Detoxinista, which is really just soaked cashews blended with a bit of lemon juice and garlic. The arugula sauce is completely optional and, if you’re short on time, I think serving the lentil falafel on a bed of arugula salad would be equally as good.