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The Art of Cooking from the Garden

At Napa Valley's award-winning Ubuntu Restaurant, culinary inspiration comes straight from the earth
The Art of Cooking from the Garden

Ubuntu is a South African word that means kindness, humanity, compassion, and goodness. At Ubuntu Restaurant and Yoga Studio in Napa, Calif., chef Jeremy Fox applies the concept to vegetarian fare that elevates the simple to the spectacular. “The vibe in the restaurant is warm and festive—it feels like you’re eating in someone’s home and being well taken care of,” Fox says. Yoginis from the adjoining yoga studio mingle in the dining room with loyal locals and foodies in search of a gourmet meal. “Customers can come in for pizza and a glass of beer, or an eight-course tasting menu,” he adds.

Fox’s culinary inspiration comes from the restaurant’s biodynamic gardens six miles away. The result is an ever-changing menu that’s as local, seasonal, and eco-friendly as you can get “I go to the gardens once a week and talk to the gardener on a day-to-day basis so I stay informed of what’s fresh and what’s ready to pick,” Fox explains.”Then I cook by sight and by taste—I don’t usually plan recipes.”

Fortunately for VT, Fox agreed to do a little recipe planning (and writing down!) to create a springtime menu in honor of Earth Day. Here are the recipes, in all their natural glory.

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Steamed Artichokes with Celery Salsa Verde

Steamed Artichokes with Celery Salsa Verde

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At Ubuntu Restaurant and Yoga Sudio in Napa, Calif., one of chef Jeremy Fox's favorite challenges as a classically trained chef is coming up with recipes that steer clear of dairy and eggs so that 80 percent of the menu is vegan-friendly. Here, a light salsa replaces the mayonnaise or

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Carrots with Juniper Yogurt

Carrots with Juniper Yogurt

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Fresh or dried juniper berries have a citrusy, piney taste most familiar to Americans as the flavoring agent in gin. You can also season the yogurt with equal amounts of crushed dried coriander or cumin seeds. If you find tender baby carrots at the farmers’ market, don’t bother peeling them

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Red Quinoa with Beets, Avocado, and Pistachios

Red Quinoa with Beets, Avocado, and Pistachios

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Before he started cooking at Napa, California’s celebrated Ubuntu restaurant, chef Jeremy Fox had never used quinoa; now it’s one of his favorite grains. At the restaurant, this recipe is carefully plated to turn it into an edible work of art, but home cooks can make the same, flavorful dish

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Strawberry-Lavender Pavlova with Vanilla Bean Whipped Yogurt

Strawberry-Lavender Pavlova with Vanilla Bean Whipped Yogurt

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We asked Deanie Fox, pastry chef at Napa, California’s celebrated Ubuntu restaurant, to come up with a lightened version of the whipped cream she generally uses for this fresh, festive dessert. She was happy to oblige. The result is a tangy, light-as-air filling for crispy meringues.

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Farro Stew with Peas, Green Garlic, and Watermelon Radish

Farro Stew with Peas, Green Garlic, and Watermelon Radish

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Nutty, hearty, and healthy, farro is an Italian whole grain that’s an ancestor to modern-day wheat. “The thing I love about it is that it creates a great wheat-flavored broth,” Fox says. If you can’t find farro, substitute spelt or pearled barley. You can also garnish with edible

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