Ask The Chef

Click Here to submit your questions.

What is the signature food of St. Louis? It used to be toasted ravioli, but when was the last time you actually ate a deep-fried ravioli — especially since they are all pre-fab and frozen now. Then, St. Louisans were swept with a cheesecake craze, then a bread pudding craze, all concurrent with the spinach-artichoke dip craze. (Those dishes seem so heavy now). Even though we are far removed from a salty body of water, crab cakes (with chipotle sauce) still reign supreme at most St. Louis restaurants, but the upstart fish tacos (with tropical fruit salsa) are coming on strong as a replacement favorite food. At Kitchen Conservatory, shrimp-scallop scampi is still the number one requested dish.

None of these recipes have any connection to the foods grown around St. Louis or the ethnic history of St. Louis (French, German, Italian). How about cooking a popular dish made from local ingredients with a sense of St. Louis? The old cookbooks from St. Louis are filled with recipes for turtle soup, but I don’t see that classic making a comeback.

Since our region is well-known for asparagus and horseradish, I offer a St. Louis salad:

Asparagus Salad with Horseradish Vinaigrette

for the salad:

  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 small beet, peeled and diced
  • olive oil as needed
  • 1 apple, peeled and sliced or grated
  • 1/2 pound fresh spinach
  • 1 hard-boiled egg, sliced with an egg slicer

Trim the ends of the asparagus, sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and place on a lined baking pan. Roast at 400 degrees until tender-crisp, 5-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the asparagus. Let cool. Place the beet on a lined baking pan, sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool.

Toss the spinach with a little of the dressing and arrange on plates. Arrange the asparagus, beets, apple, and egg on top. Drizzle on more dressing.

for the dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon freshly-grated horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallot
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Whisk together the horseradish, shallot, vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper. While whisking, drizzle in the oil. Whisk in the herbs.