Baristaville vegans and vegetarians can rejoice with the newest culinary offering in the area. SO Tasty Vegan, owned and operated by vegan chef Sally Owens, offers catering, health coaching, cooking instruction and just about anything vegan food related.
Sally Owens is a third generation Montclair girl who was trained at The Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts and at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Growing up with a severe food allergies, at a time when it wasn’t so common, taught Sally to find healthy alternatives. She became a vegan while in culinary school and combined her cooking skills and love of animals in her career. After graduating, Sally moved to Mendocino California to work at The Ravens’, a vegetarian/vegan restaurant. After gaining the necessary skills, Sally came back to Montclair and started So Tasty Vegan.
I, along with my eating buddy Kristin Wald, had the pleasure of tasting some of Sally’s food. Let me be clear, I’m nowhere near to being a vegetarian and even farther away from begin a vegan. I’m a meat-loving girl, and probably always will be, but I do feel strongly about buying organic animal products, as well as produce. That being said, I didn’t think I’d enjoy the food as much as I did.
For starters, Sally made “Sushi” Rolls, which used jicama and ground cashew as the rice. They were stuffed with avocado, shiitake mushrooms, carrots and other veggies, wrapped tightly in seaweed and served with a soy dipping sauce. I practically ate the entire platter. The crisp veggies, creamy avocado, spongy shiitake mushroom and jicama/cashew “rice” gave a combination of textures that was really pleasing. Combined with the soy dipping sauce, this was a delicious dish. One that I would serve at a party as an appetizer.
Next Sally served a raw salad of thin strips of zucchini dressed in a sun-dried tomatoes, shallot, fresh basil vinaigrette and topped off with pine nuts. Sally has a way of layering flavors so that with each bite, you taste something new. This salad was really good and could be served as a great starter or side dish.
Another interesting dish was her Watermelon Coconut Gazpacho, which also had cucumber in it. Cool, refreshing, and so very tasty. I thought it would be perfect served at a cocktail party in a shot glass, or as Kristin suggested as an amuse bouche.
Aside for the sushi rolls I devoured, my next favorite was Sally’s chocolate truffles. They are part of a product line that is in development. Her goal is to have them sold at local retailers. Knowing that my daughter has a peanut allergy, Sally swapped the ground almonds she normally uses in the recipe for pumpkin seeds. That service is something Sally does for all her cooking. She will accommodate food requests, especially due to allergies. She has a very good understanding of food allergies and is also works with families with children who have allergies as a consultant and meal planner. Stay tuned for that story on Barista Kids.
Anyway, back to those awesome truffles. I don’t know what her other truffles taste like, but these made with pumpkin were incredible. I didn’t taste the pumpkin, although I love pumpkin, just a rich, chocolaty and creamy truffle. Sally serves them inserted with a little stick so they are like cake pops and rolls them in different treats, such as coconut, mini chocolate chips, chopped nuts, or dried candied ginger, like the ones we tasted. They were individuality wrapped in cellophane and tied with ribbon and would make the perfect party favor. They truly are delicious and I plan on ordering them by the bulk for my next party. My very picky daughter devoured the ones rolled in candied ginger.
SO Tasty Vegan is available to cater parties, do food and wine pairing parties in your home (her roommate works at Amanti Vino), consult on health and nutrition needed to be a vegan, teach cooking lessons, basically anything culinary. (She is even a consultant for the latest food truck to hit town—Hunger Construction. Sally also blogs on her website and you’ll find recipes, nutrition advice and beautiful food photos right here.