Food For Thought

Chef Santiago Ares seeks to build health and relationships at La Tabla
Farinata, a traditional Italian dish, is a popular menu item at La Tabla.

Has your waistband been getting a little snug lately? Are you searching for a health club, in the hopes of finding the body you lost to the excesses of holiday revelry? Or maybe you are thumbing through the pages of Shape magazine, wondering where yours went. If so, one of your New Year’s resolutions may be to drop a few pounds.

With a plethora of diets and regimens to choose from, finding the perfect plan can be downright confusing if not a little discouraging. It would appear that food has become the enemy rather than a way of nourishing our bodies. So, this month, rather than focus on what not to eat, we have chosen to look at health-promoting foods that increase energy and vitality — the kinds of foods that are so satisfying that they replace yo-yo dieting with intuitive eating.

For this, we turned to Santiago Ares, owner of La Tabla on Royal Palm Pointe in Vero Beach. As a lifelong crusader for real food, Ares says dieting isn’t the answer. Instead, his restaurant focuses on wholesome, nutrition-dense foods, sourced from local farms and purveyors rather than processing plants.

“We don’t believe in diet,” Ares insists. “We believe in lifestyle. We eat to live and to feel good, and the balance of these two is what we like to offer at La Tabla. Diets usually create a short-term solution that is rarely sustainable. Clean eating and drinking is key to improving and maintaining your health, together with a good exercise plan. We like to think of your diet as something that gets better and better every year as you learn more and more about food.”



Servings: 8

This dish is often served as part of an antipasto platter in Tuscany, Italy. It can also be the base for many toppings, as shown in the vegan, vegetarian and gluten free recipe below.

  • 1 teaspoon of vegetarian Better than Bouillon
  • 3  cups warm water
  • 4  cups chickpea flour
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄4 cup rosemary leaves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 F. Mix water and bouillon together to make a broth. Put chickpea flour into a medium bowl and add broth slowly until well-blended. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil and tahini. Mix well, cover and rest for 2 hours. Place a 10-by-14-inch baking tray into the oven to warm. When warm, grease with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Pour in chickpea mixture. Cook until firm and edges are set (10 minutes). Top with rosemary and garlic and brush with olive oil. Cook 10 more minutes until golden brown.

Add toppings of choice: Prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, tomato and extra-virgin olive oil or roasted organic tempeh, fresh pesto and avocado.

Categories: Local Flavor