Although we’re tucked away in Northwest Louisiana, we still enjoy hearing the restaurant buzz from all over the country. From The French Laundry in Napa Valley with its notorious two month waitlist to Dominique Ansel’s bakery creation of the cronut in New York, we have an ever growing list of restaurants and shops to visit.
On this list is a restaurant called Gjelina. This trendy restaurant has been a fixture in Venice, CA for years (with rumors of opening in NY soon) and is known for its vegetarian dishes and wood-fire pizzas, so when I learned that Chef Travis Lett had put out a cookbook of Gjelina’s dishes, I bought it immediately to try my hand at recreating some of his recipes at home!
The book is truly one of the more beautiful cookbooks I’ve seen, with stunning photos of the ingredients, plated dishes, and shots of the restaurant. Within a few pages, it’s easy to see Lett’s vision and passion for Gjelina, as well as his appreciation for his staff and sous chefs (there are individual pictures of each one!).
More than anything though, I am most excited about the giant portion of this book that features vegetables: page after page of roasted, braised, or pan-seared vegetables that look like they could be dinner versus just a side dish. Lett does a really good job of using minimal effort to manipulate the vegetables while finding creative ways to enhance their flavors and textures.
The first recipe I tried was roasted yams with honey, espelette, and lime yogurt. I substituted Japanese sweet potatoes in place of the yams and red chili pepper flakes instead of the espelette. The combination of the spicy pepper with the sweet honey and tangy lime yogurt was a burst of flavor. Due to the honey, the sweet potatoes were more tender than crispy. The yogurt helps to cut some of the spice, but even without it the potatoes were sublime. As someone who ate this for dinner and lunch for the next two days, it’ll definitely be a recipe that I know I’ll make again and again.
- 1/2 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
- Juice of 2 small limes (to taste)
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 medium to large yams (I used Japanese sweet potatoes)
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp espelette pepper (or crushed red pepper flakes – to taste)
- 2 green onions (white and green parts), sliced thinly
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- In a small bowl, combine the yogurt with the lime juice and 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Cut the yams lengthwise into eight wedges. In a medium bowl, toss the yams with the honey, ½ tbsp. of the espelette pepper, and the remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Marinate for 10 minutes, tossing once or twice to coat.
- Transfer the yams to a rimmed baking sheet and roast until they are nicely caramelized around the edges and soft when pierced with a knife at the thickest part, 25-35 minutes.
- Transfer to a serving platter, drizzle yogurt over all, and garnish with the green onions and remaining espelette pepper. Serve warm.