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Crayons to Cuisine 

Dreams come true in full color for Wild Sage Chef Alexa Wilson

click to enlarge Alexa Wilson
  • Alexa Wilson

“My first recipe I copied by crayon from an early morning Saturday show when I was 6 … Stuffed Tomato Ladybugs,” says Alexa Wilson, smiling warmly at the thought.

“I have wanted to be a chef since I was 19. Cooking and creating with food came pretty naturally to me,” she says. “My dad and mom always told me I should do what I want. So tackling culinary school, a male-dominated culinary industry, didn’t bother me.”

Highlights of her kitchen resume are impressive: Executive Chef at the University of Washington, Executive Banquet Chef at the Davenport Hotel, Executive Chef at the Prospector Bar and Grille properties… and now Wild Sage American Bistro. Why the switch to a bistro?

“I had just completed the Prospector concept and was exhausted,” Wilson says. “Tom Sciortino and David Wells approached me with the idea of Wild Sage. These gentlemen heard and embraced my passion for creative food. I left that day knowing Wild Sage would be my next project and adventure.

“My diners think it is my magic that creates the flavors, but actually I rely mostly on real flavors… like a tomato that tastes like tomato,” she states. Locally grown foods are a focus of Wild Sage menus. This summer Alexa will order local greens from Deer Haven Farm on Mt. Spokane. “I order a mix of large leaf spinach, red chard, radish tops, wild arugula, and pea vines.”  Wilson says she loves chard in the summer, “but baby beets with the tops, still are number one.”

An easy and delicious way to get more healthy and delicious fresh greens into your diet is by wilting them. Here are several ideas Chef Wilson shared with InHealth NW:

  1. Place a few greens in a soup bowl and pour a favorite soup over them.
  2. Toss chopped fresh greens with lightly seasoned hot pasta.
  3. Place greens in a serving bowl and pour clams and stock over the top.
  4. Toss a few greens into eggs, rich sauces or meaty entrées.
  5. Heavier greens such as collards, mustard or mature chard can be wilted and lightly seasoned for a side dish.
  6. Wilt greens, then give them a quick flash heating in a hot sauté pan; season with spices or a bit of honey.

Wilson is very aware that diners have a whole variety of health concerns. She has worked with gluten-free and soy-enriched recipes, as well as menu items for diners with lactose and nut allergies, and of course, with vegetarian menus. “I am constantly inspired by what others tell me they cook and eat,” she says, adding, “I’ve learned diners do not want to be singled out at dinner for a dietary issue. I prefer to offer a hand-modified copy of the regular dinner menu and open conversation about what I can offer,” she says.

Wilted Baby Beets and Greens

Ingredients:
2 pounds baby beets with the tops
16oz. extra virgin olive oil
4oz. fresh lemon juice
1 T kosher salt
1 T pepper, fresh ground
pinch red chile flakes

Directions:

In small container, with thight fitting lid, combine extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, kosher salt, pepper and chile flakes. Shake vigorously, set aside.

Blanch beets with tops for moments in boiling water and drain. Place in medium mixing bowl, re-shake vinaigrette and pour just two ounces over beets and greens. Toss well. Save remaining vinaigrette for another day! Serves 4.

Chef's Note: "This recipe is adjustable to taste, saltier or spicier, less or more lemon. Choose whatever brand of olive oil you enjoy. I use a first cold press extra virgin oliver oil that is fruity in flavor."

Nutrition Notes: 174 calories, 11g fat, <2g saturated fat, 18g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 3g protein

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