Young and Hungry

Chefs Veg Out: Amy Brandwein of Casa Nonna

Short ribs and baby octopus may dominate many menus in the city, but that doesn't mean local chefs can't find love in an acorn squash. In our ongoing series, Chefs Veg Out, we'll prove D.C.’s chefs can play with more than just meat.

  • Name: Amy Brandwein
  • Title: Executive Chef
  • Restaurant: Casa Nonna
  • Twitter: @CasaNonna
  • Cooking Since: Professionally, I started about 12 years ago. My first real experience was at Galileo. When I was growing up I was always in kitchens, but was more a sandwich maker. My second job was at a deli in Arlington, Primo.
  • Random Fact: I love soccer. I played soccer since I was six. I'm in retirement now.
  • Favorite Vegetable: Broccoli rabe. It's my favorite food, actually. I love the bitter, earthy taste.
  • Least Favorite Vegetable: Fiddlehead fern. Oh my God. I try to cook it and try to work with it... It's a sexy spring time thing, but to me, it's inedible. There's nothing that I could possibly do to it that could make me like it.
  • Memorable Meatless Dish: In Italy, I had a terrific pappa al pomodoro. That is basically a very simple but delicious bread and tomato soup I had in Tuscany last year. It's chunks of tomato, garlic, basil, and a ciabatta loaf. It's a mushy kind of soup and topped with extra virgin.
  • Best Vegetable Dish at Casa Nonna: Caponata: chunks of eggplant, fried, then combined with braised onions and celery in a sweet and sour tomato sauce with raisins, capers, and pine nuts. It's very versatile and very tasty.
  • Quick and Dirty Meatless Idea: My favorite thing is whole wheat pasta (spaghetti) with broccoli rabe, garlic, hot peppers, extra virgin olive oil, a tiny bit of butter and pasta cooking water. Finish with Pecorino. I always have my cooks make this for me when I'm hungry.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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