Sexy Food: Michael Natkin’s Herbivoracious Goodies

Win a copy of his debuting cookbook, learn his recipe, and a pop-up you don’t want to miss —

Little known fact: I was a vegetarian for two decades, which is why I’m making up for lost porcine time now that I’ve hit my dirty thirties. Despite my meaty ways, I still have mad respect for vegetarians. Meat is probably the easiest thing on the plate to prepare. It takes a little more ingenuity to showcase vegetables and grains so they truly shine.

Michael Natkin's Watermelon Radish and Watercress Salad.

Local author Michael Natkin’s first book, Herbivoracious (available for pre-order on Amazon), is based on his widely-read vegetarian blog of the same name, and today I’m pleased to share his recipe for watermelon radish and watercress salad that is as delicious as it is visually arresting. It’s also gluten-free and comes together in ten minutes flat- could a better dinner party dish exist? If you’d like to win a copy of the Herbivoracious book, leave a comment below mentioning why it should go to you. Winner will be selected at random Monday, April 9, 2012 at noon, so get comments in prior to that time. Open to all US residents.

Michael’s cooking style is so cutting edge that you’d hardly know he was vegetarian for all the flavors he tucks into every dish. He is a true leader of the modern vegetarian movement with his new American cuisine that just happens to be meatless as well. According to Seattle restaurateur and man-about-town Tom Douglas, “vegetables are the past, present and future of cooking. Michael’s ability to go global with their preparation sets his new book apart from the pack.”

These days, Michael finds himself at an exciting life juncture. The release of his first book caused him to realize that food is his true passion, so he’s ditching his day job at Adobe to pursue life in the kitchen full-time. After his book tour is complete, he plans to work on a non-standard restaurant concept that we at Seattleite hope evolves into brick-and-mortar soon. If you’d like to get a sneak peek of Michael’s culinary prowess, he is hosting several pop-up dinners, the first of which is April 10th at Judkins Street Café. Reservation information as well as details on Michael’s upcoming book tour can be found here.

And now for the salad that promises to make you weak in the knees…

Watermelon Radish and Watercress Salad

(reprinted with permission from Harvard Common Press)

  • Gluten-free
  • Serves 4
  • 10 minutes

This delicious salad is driven purely by its beautiful ingredients; all you have to do is take a little care to arrange them nicely.

Watermelon radishes are green on the outside, but when sliced you see that they are intensely red in the middle, looking much like a watermelon. If you have a mandoline, it is excellent for slicing them thinly and evenly.

Hydroponic watercress with the root ball intact has become available year-round at specialty markets. Look for bright, fresh leaves with no signs of wilt. The tart, peppery cress makes a great foil for the sweet figs and pomegranate arils.

  • 1 large watermelon radish, very thinly sliced
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 handfuls watercress, rinsed and dried
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 ripe fresh figs, halved
  • ¼ cup pomegranate arils
  • 16 shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano or other hard aged cheese
  • 12 toasted walnut halves
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
  1. Arrange the slices of watermelon radish in a circle on 4 chilled plates. Drizzle with a little olive oil.
  2. Toss the watercress with a bit of the olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Place a fluffy handful on each plate. This is the critical step to making the salad look nice – aim to make a tall, high mound in the center, don’t let it spread out.
  3. Add two fig halves, a tablespoon of pomegranate arils, 4 shavings of cheese, and 3 toasted walnut halves to each plate. Serve immediately.

Don’t forget to enter to win this gorgeous book by leaving a comment below! Contest open until noon Monday, April 9, 2012.