For years, husband and wife team Erin and Chad Romanoff brought their plant-based dishes to Gilbert residents in a 1968 Avion travel trailer, gaining a local following of enthusiastic epicures — one that quickly outgrew the capabilities of their mobile kitchen. So when local developer and visionary Joe Johnston opened a spot for makers, breweries and restaurants in a Quonset hut on the grounds of Agritopia, he invited the couple to become of a part of the small-business community. For the past five years, The Uprooted Kitchen has been serving hungry visitors and residents fresh, flavorful cuisine from the brick-and-mortar location.
“Plant-based organic is our focus — whole foods, things that we make from scratch,” Erin notes. “We’ve always used Agritopia farm produce, even in our food truck, and now we can see the farm from our window, so it’s like the perfect fit.”
Unlike veganism or vegetarianism, plant-based foods are whole foods. No animal products or processed ingredients are included. “Veganism is a wonderful thing, but there’s a lot of vegan junk food out there. Oreos are vegan," Erin explains. "We want people to know that when they come to eat with us, they’re getting the healthiest spectrum of food. It’s filled with vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. It boosts your immune system, helps with your digestive health and gives you great energy.”
Take for example the Cobb Salad Bowl. This unique twist on an American classic is bursting with flavor and texture. Beans replace eggs for protein. Tempeh, seasoned with maple syrup and roasted until crispy, mimics bacon, while crumbled tofu reminds the mouth of feta cheese. Sunflower seeds bring added crunch. The dish is topped with an organic cashew dressing for a tart, creamy finish.
“It’s definitely one of our most popular salads,” Erin says. “It’s flavors are very familiar, but we put our own twist on it.
“People are always surprised at what you can do with plants,” she continues. “Seasoning is key. There are so many recipes online for everything from veggie burgers to salad dressings.”
For anyone interested in exploring a plant-based diet, Erin suggests starting small. “It’s very overwhelming,” she explains, noting that many of her customers don’t eat plant-based every day but instead incorporate two or three meals a week. “It’s a process and a transformation. Start with the goal of a couple plant-based meals each week,” she says. “Focus on the whole foods. If you add new things into your diet slowly, it becomes a positive experience.”
For more information, visit theuprootedkitchen.com.
The Uprooted Kitchen’s Cobb Salad Bowl
2 cups spring mix
3 tablespoon white beans
3 tablespoon diced raw red onion
3 tablespoon diced cucumber
3 tablespoon smashed avocado
6 kalamata olives
3 tablespoon maple-roasted tempeh
3 tablespoon tofu walnut feta
3 tablespoon steamed pickled beets
2 tablespoon sunflower seeds
2 tablespoon shredded carrots
Pinch of sunflower shoots
Layer spring mix in bottom of bowl. Season smashed avocado with salt, garlic and lemon. Assemble beans, onion, cucumber, avocado, olives, tempeh, tofu and beets in rows on top of spring mix. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds, shredded carrots and sunflower shoots. Serve with housemade cashew dill dressing (see recipe below).
Makes 1 salad
Housemade Cashew Dill Dressing
1 cup soaked raw cashews
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon garlic
1 tablespoon fresh dill
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth.
Makes 1½ cups