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Turn fruits, veggies into incredible edibles

March 30, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
If you're trying to get someone to eat their vegetables, remember, presentation is important. Joshua Whigham is the Chef de Cuisine at The Bazaar, the restaurant at the SJS Hotel in Los Angeles.

"All you're doing is using ingredients that have been around for ages and isolating those flavors and changing the texture," Whigham said.

Bazaar's Master Chef Jose Andre's food is said to mimic art. Whigham whipped up three plates that are a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds, starting with tomato-topped watermelon skewers, both heavy on taste and the plant chemical lycopene.

After cubing the watermelon, Whigham skins tomatoes and uses a scoop of what's known as "the heart" to top the cubes. Then he makes a drizzle with lemon, sherry vinegar, olive oil and salt.

He adds a special Spanish vinegar reduction and edible flowers to decorate the plate, but at home the drizzle works beautifully.

Beyond the typical chip and dip, this version of guacamole features slicing paper-thin jicima, known as "Spanish potato," that's often eaten raw, as a wrap for guacamole.

Whigham uses Fritos in each wrap for a bit of crunch. Each little guacamole purse is topped with the chopped tomatoes saved from the watermelon skewers.

Finally, a tasty yet easy dish is Spanish classic Pan con Tomate. Kids can grate the tomatoes so there is no skin, just pulp. Garlic, thyme and bay leaf are added to olive oil and salt.

"It's best if you make this and let sit for maybe an hour before you serve it," Whigham said. "Then all the flavors that marinates in, they become one."

When it's time to serve, toast some bread and top it with the tomato mixture.

All three offer a unique and fun way to offer healthy food with flair.

To try the watermelon tomato skewers:
Cube watermelon.

Cut into a tomato to take the skin and layer of the flesh to reveal the "hearts" or pockets of seeds. Lift the hearts out and place on a cutting board (save the tomato for the guacamole purses).

Lift the hearts and place on top of each watermelon cube, putting a toothpick through each.

To make a drizzle topping:
Cut a lemon in half, squeezing the juice of one half into a bowl. Add a touch of sherry vinegar, a tablespoon or two of olive oil, and kosher salt to taste. Blend together and spoon on top of each skewer.

To make guacamole purses:
Make your own favorite guacamole recipe.

Slice a jicima paper-thin. The Bazaar uses a meat slicer that is not turned on, resulting in really thin jicima circles. Crush a handful of Fritos. Sprinkle a teaspoon's worth in the center of each jicima round. Put a dollop of guacamole on top of the Fritos.

Wrap the ends in together so each looks like a purse.

Slice and cube tomato flesh and sprinkle about a quarter-teaspoon on top of each guacamole purse.

To make pan con tomate:
Cut 3 or 4 tomatoes in half. Using a cheese or box shredder into a large bowl, shred the tomato into pulp discarding the leftover skin.

Cut the roots out of 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, lightly smash and put into the bowl of tomatoes with sprigs of fresh thyme, a bay leaf, and olive oil to taste. The restaurant uses olive oil quite liberally, perhaps a quarter- to a half- cup. Stir and let sit for one hour.

Slice and toast bread of choice. Top each toast generously with tomato mixture.