Ari's Picks

Local Lion’s Mane Mushrooms, Basil and Pine Nut Pesto, and Carolina Gold Rice

Local Lion's Mane Mushrooms, Basil and Pine Nut Pesto, and Carolina Gold Rice.

Great summer vegetarian supper at the Roadhouse

This summer special features some lovely local produce and the world-class, historically-significant, organic Carolina Gold Rice we get from Anson Mills down in South Carolina.

The main feature of the dish is the organic local Lion’s Mane mushrooms we’ve been getting from the fine folks at Stoney Creek Mushrooms. When the local Lion’s Mane come in, they’re huge—about the size of a head of cauliflower! The flavor is earthy, delicate, and delicious. The rice is less visually striking but no less delicious! It dates to the 17th century when it came to the Carolina coast from West Africa where it had been widely and skillfully grown for centuries. Carolina Gold (the name comes from its color when it’s still in the husk, in the field, shimmering in the sun) is the rice that made so many South Carolina planters wealthy, wealth that of course came via the unpaid labor of enslaved Africans.

West Africans were the tech minds that made the rice growing work. After Emancipation in 1863, the low yield/high labor of Carolina Gold, like most heirlooms, made it less appealing to farmers looking to make money and by 1920 it had completely disappeared from commercial sale. Seeds were found in a seed bank in Arkansas in 2000 and thanks to the folks at Anson Mills and a handful of others, it’s made a comeback. What we get from Anson Mills is field ripened (to bring out the rice’s natural full flavor), milled only when we order it to retain full flavor, and the germ (brush up on your grain anatomy here) is left in which a) makes it a perishable product and b) significantly enhances the flavor.

The crowning touch on the dish is the pesto. It starts with some beautiful, exceptionally aromatic, organic basil that’s coming in from a series of local farms, most particularly Tantré Farm in Chelsea and Tamchop Farm in Dexter. We take the fresh basil leaves and turn them into a pesto in the Roadhouse kitchen with olive oil, fresh garlic, Parmesan from Wisconsin, pine nuts, and a bit of Tellicherry pepper. The dish comes together beautifully—the gentle nuttiness of the rice, the herbal brightness of the pesto, and the delicate earthiness of the Lion’s Mane mushrooms. Swing by for lunch or dinner!

Make a reservation at the Roadhouse

P.S. If you’re dining on a Tuesday, the Roadhouse offers any bottle of the 36 artisan American wines on its list at 30% off (this offer is extended every day for take-out orders!). The majority of the wines on the list are made by winemakers or wineries led by women or folks from underrepresented minorities—a great way to make diversity come alive in a practical and very tasty way!

P.P.S. We’ll be paying particular tribute to traditional African American foodways at the special dinner at the Roadhouse on Tuesday, September 12th. My friend, author and historian Adrian Miller will be the guest speaker and the event will be used to raise funds for NEW Center!

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