Sunday, May 24, 2009

Follower Sunday: “Thank You Readership!”Guest-Chef Sean O’Brien: The Willow Restaurant, Ithaca, NY

by Anthony J. Sepe

Each Sunday, I thank my readership for their loyalty and dedication to my blog, by providing a healthy recipe.  To those that know, this is a healthy repeat, but for those that are unaware and are new to the blog, this is my way of “giving back.”  It is also a way to “Pay it Forward.”  Each Sunday, not only will you have a healthy recipe, but you will have an expert in the field of dietetics, food and nutrition, provide the healthy recipe to you.  It is my pleasure to introduce this week, Chef Sean O’Brien from The Willow, Ithaca, New York with Grilled Escolar.


Sean O'Brien Co-Owner Willow Restaurant, at 202 E. Falls St. in Ithaca NY.
Willow has been around since October 2001.  It was a collaboration of ideas and restaurants I had spent working in since I graduated from Johnson & Wales in 1996.
My wife and I also created Willow with the intent of being surrounded by family and friends.  
We both grew up in Ithaca, and returned, after spending time in Westchester Co. NY, Washington D.C. and lastly in Fairfield Co. Conn.   At Willow we create Contemporary American Cuisine, using as much fresh and local product as possible.  
The following recipe (menu item) was made with the Vegan population in mind, however by adding the grilled Escolar to it we also appeal to the non vegans.  
We hope you enjoy.



©  Grilled Escolar

Recipe reprinted with permission by Chef Sean O’Brien.

Grilled Escolar with Braised Swiss Chard, Toasted Quinoa, Caramelized Onions and Kalamata Olive Broth
Four 7-ounce pieces of escolar (salmon can be substituted), marinated in olive oil, salt and pepper, your favorite herbs and 1 teaspoon smoked paprika.

1 1/2 cups dry quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small white onion, diced
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups vegetable stock
Zest and juice of one orange
Pinch of red chili flakes
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

2 large white onions, julienned
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

1 large bunch Swiss chard
1 teaspoon shallots, diced
1 teaspoon garlic, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
1 cup kalamata olives, chopped
3 cups vegetable stock
Zest and juice from one orange
Salt and pepper to taste
Marinate four 7- to 8-ounce pieces of escolar in olive oil, salt and pepper, fresh herbs and 1 teaspoon smoked paprika.

For the quinoa: Start with1 1/2 cups dry quinoa, toast in dry sauté pan or in oven until golden brown and you get a nutty smell. In a saucepan on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and one small white onion, diced. Cook until translucent and then add quinoa. Let them toast together for one minute and then add 1/2 cup white wine and reduce volume by half. Once reduced, add 2 cups vegetable stock, zest and juice of one orange and one pinch of red chili flakes. Reduce heat to simmer, stirring occasionally. Let simmer for 20 minutes until quinoa opens up and is fluffy. At the last minute, add salt and pepper and 1 teaspoon fresh thyme and set aside.
For the onions: Julienne two large white onions. In a heavy- bottom pan, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and heat on medium heat. Add the onions and stir often. Stir often to prevent onions from burning, and try to remove natural sugars from bottom of pan with a wooden spoon; it is these sugars that will caramelize the onions. Once the onions are the color of milk chocolate, add 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and 1 teaspoon fresh oregano. Reduce until the onions are dry and then remove from heat.
For the Swiss chard: Remove the center rib from one large bunch of Swiss chard and cut the leaves into half-inch strips. In a sauté pan, add one teaspoon diced shallots, one teaspoon diced garlic and one tablespoon olive oil. Over medium heat, let the garlic and shallots toast to golden brown. Add the Swiss chard and toss quickly. Add 1/2 cup white wine and reduce. Then, add 1/2 cup vegetable stock and simmer until the chard is tender and almost dry. Season with salt and pepper and your favorite fresh herbs and keep warm.
For the olive broth: In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Next, add one diced red onion, two cloves of garlic, chopped, and one chopped shallot and let brown. Add 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup sherry vinegar and 1 cup chopped kalamata olives. Let simmer. Once volume is reduced by half, add 3 cups vegetable stock and the juice and zest of one orange, and let simmer. Once volume is reduced by half, strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve. Make sure to get all of the juice from the ingredients. Be aware that the olives are salty; adjust seasoning by adding additional black pepper. You can reduce sauce more to desired thickness prior to seasoning.
For the fish: On a hot, well-seasoned grill, cook fish to desired temperature.
Distribute items equally on four plates (using as much or as little olive broth as each diner desires) and serve.
Note: You can use chicken stock instead of vegetable stock, but always be cautious of salt content. You can substitute Salmon for Escolar.
Serves four.

Visit: Sean O'Brien Co-Owner Willow Restaurant, at 202 E. Falls St. in Ithaca NY.


  1. Very delicious recipes. Well I know one Indian dietician website Hope readers find it useful to live a healthy life witha balanced diet


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