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The Essential Vegetarian

Tired of Boston veggie options? Try London...

By Katie Jeffreys

Welcome back from Spring Break. I hope it was lovely for all of you. I personally went to London, and found it to be far more accommodating to vegetarians than I had anticipated. I went thinking I would be ordering “fish and chips -- hold the fish” or “bangers and mash -- no bangers, please,” but that was not the case. The city is filled with Indian restaurants, sandwich shops, cafes, and funky restaurants which offer a myriad vegetarian dishes.

Sandwiches in London are frequently served with a small side salad that is a far cry from the iceberg lettuce bag salads you find here. They consist of dark leafy greens, and loads of toppings. The sandwiches themselves are wonderful throughout the city. My favorites were avocado with mozzarella or brie and roasted vegetables with roasted provolone. Certainly beats Subway! So all in all, be adventurous and be vegetarian in London -- for a country known for its bland food, I was impressed.

Before the break I visited a local establishment, the California Pizza Kitchen in the Prudential Center. I know pizza isn’t the most exciting food, but they sure do serve a mean pie. The pizzas are made with very little cheese, so they are not oily. They have numerous vegetarian pizzas, including portobello mushroom, fresh tomato, basil and garlic, five cheese and fresh tomato, traditional cheese, goat cheese, tostada, and of course, vegetarian. While the tostada pizza sounded interesting, with it’s black bean and taco toppings, I opted for the vegetarian pizza, which was generously strewn with broccoli, onions, sun-dried tomatoes, grilled eggplant, and oregano. I also chose the tasty honey-wheat crust instead of the traditional plain version. The crust is thin, but not crispy. The result is a very filling meal for a reasonable price. In fact, reasonable enough to splurge on dessert! I chose the white chocolate cheesecake, which is rich enough to split. It is on a Oreo crust, and topped with raspberry sauce. Yum!

In addition to pizzas, the restaurant also offers several vegetarian sandwich, salad and pasta options. The pastas, unlike the pizza, tend to be oily. The sandwiches are served with soup, salad or cole slaw, and are on fresh focaccia bread. I would recommend this restaurant. There is sometimes a wait for a table, but you can shop (or window shop) around the Pru while you wait. Service is cheerful, but at times a bit slow. The only thing I didn’t like was the fact that there are too many tables crammed into a small space, which makes for a noisy, cafeteria-like atmosphere.

My recipe this week is courtesy of Rashmi Khare ’01, who attests to its “wonderfulness.” Thanks, Rashmi! And as always, feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, or suggestions at

Fusilli with Spinach and Ricotta Sauce

2 bunches of spinach (to yield 3/4 pound trimmed leaves)

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional Parmesan cheese for passing

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound dried fusilli

With a large knife, slice across spinach bunches to separate leaves from stems. Swish leaves well in a sink filled with cold water, lifting them out to leave the dirt behind; drain and refill sink and repeat washing if necessary. Weigh out 3/4 pound leaves; reserve the rest for salad or another use. Put the spinach leaves in a 12-inch skillet with just the water clinging to them. Cover and cook over moderate heat until leaves are just wilted, about 3 minutes, tossing once or twice with tongs so leaves wilt evenly. Transfer wilted leaves to a sieve and place under cold running water until cool. Drain well and squeeze between your hands to remove excess water. The spinach does not need to be thoroughly dry.

Melt butter in a small skillet over low heat. Add garlic and saute one minute to release its fragrance. Put spinach, garlic and butter in food processor and process to chop. Add ricotta and process until smooth, stopping machine to scrape down sides of bowl once or twice. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan and season generously with salt and pepper.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup water. Transfer to a large warm bowl. Add as much of the sauce as you like and toss to eat, adding reserved water as necessary to thin the sauce. Serve pasta immediately in warm dishes and pass additional Parmesan at the table. Serves 4. The left over sauce tastes great on toasted bread!