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Blue Plate Special

Blue Plate Special: Cooking with heart at Shelburne Falls’ Hearty Eats

  • The Vegetable Pasta special at Hearty Eats Restaurant in Shelburne Falls features their carrot marinara sauce, along with cooked vegetables and fried tempeh, all served on top of rice noodles.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell

    The Vegetable Pasta special at Hearty Eats Restaurant in Shelburne Falls features their carrot marinara sauce, along with cooked vegetables and fried tempeh, all served on top of rice noodles.
    Recorder/Micky Bedell Purchase photo reprints »

  • Andrea Beaudoin of Hearty Eats in Shelburne Falls slices carrots for a batch of Carrot Marinara.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell

    Andrea Beaudoin of Hearty Eats in Shelburne Falls slices carrots for a batch of Carrot Marinara.
    Recorder/Micky Bedell Purchase photo reprints »

  • Carrots sliced up for carrot marinara at Hearty Eats in Shelburne Falls.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell

    Carrots sliced up for carrot marinara at Hearty Eats in Shelburne Falls.
    Recorder/Micky Bedell Purchase photo reprints »

  • Andrea Beaudoin of Hearty Eats displays their Vegetable Pasta in their Shelburne Falls restaurant on Wednesday.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell

    Andrea Beaudoin of Hearty Eats displays their Vegetable Pasta in their Shelburne Falls restaurant on Wednesday.
    Recorder/Micky Bedell Purchase photo reprints »

  • The Vegetable Pasta special at Hearty Eats Restaurant in Shelburne Falls features their carrot marinara sauce, along with cooked vegetables and fried tempeh, all served on top of rice noodles.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell
  • Andrea Beaudoin of Hearty Eats in Shelburne Falls slices carrots for a batch of Carrot Marinara.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell
  • Carrots sliced up for carrot marinara at Hearty Eats in Shelburne Falls.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell
  • Andrea Beaudoin of Hearty Eats displays their Vegetable Pasta in their Shelburne Falls restaurant on Wednesday.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell

Special to The Recorder

A few years ago, Andrea Beaudoin was all business. Today, her business — Hearty Eats on Bridge Street in Shelburne Falls — has a lot of heart.

The 30-year-old Conway resident obtained a master’s degree in accounting and a license as a certified public accountant after college. She worked for several years as a management consultant in Boston and in western Massachusetts.

Then, health issues made her step back and take a look at the food she and other Americans were cooking and eating.

“I changed my ways,” she said during a recent visit I made to her restaurant with Recorder photographer Micky Bedell.

Beaudoin quit her job and studied macrobiotics at the Kushi Institute in Becket. She emerged from her studies with new food skills as well as a new outlook on life ... and pondered her future. She asked herself what she could do with her life and her business skills that would make her happy.

She decided that the best way to stay happy and healthy — and to spread the word about her food concerns — was to start cooking for others.

So Hearty Eats began as a vegan food truck in the summer of 2013.

When space opened up on Bridge Street a few months ago, she decided to expand her business into a restaurant, although the truck still caters many events and festivals.

Her partner, Colin Bergeron, who specializes in what Beaudoin calls “the physical stuff,” renovated the space to suit her needs. “He makes the show go on,” she said.

Beaudoin’s menu at Hearty Eats is vegan, local and gluten-free. She noted in conversation that her primary emphasis is on flavor and customer satisfaction.

Her customer-service manager — and stepbrother — Greg Nichols concurred. “We’re not making (this food) just because it’s good for you. It has to taste good FIRST,” said Nichols.

The restaurant opened on June 7 for Riverfest. It is closed Tuesdays but open every other day of the week from 11a.m. to 8 p.m.

And Beaudoin is working on expanding her menu; she hopes to soon add desserts to the main courses and to incorporate fish into her repertoire.

But she said she intends to keep her menu fast and doable with a small staff. And she is determined to vary her offerings seasonally so that she uses foods that are available locally.

“January and February are going to be a challenge,” she predicted with a smile.

Beaudoin is pleased with the business so far, which she said is consistently meeting — and often even exceeding — her expectations. “There’s a definite tourist element due to the summer, but we seem to have locals who come pretty regularly,” she explained.

“I do think we cater to a niche that exists in Shelburne Falls.”

For this article, Beaudoin choose to prepare a carrot-and-onion sauce for pasta with tempeh and vegetables. She explained that many customers have requested the recipe, which blends sweet, salt and the savory flavor type known in Japanese as “umami.”

She said the sauce gets its special character from the carrots and from a Japanese vinegar known as umeboshi, made from pickled ume fruit — a Japanese plum. Beaudoin called the vinegar “kind of a secret weapon.” It is available at health-food stores like McCusker’s and Green Fields Market.

The dish offered vibrant, contrasting flavors and textures and proved highly satisfying.

“I’m showing people that vegetarian food can be good and filling and delicious.”

HEARTY EATS

CARROT PASTA SAUCE

Makes about 3 quarts of sauce (This recipe may be halved).

1/2 cup safflower or sunflower oil

2 pounds carrots, cut thinly on the bias (about 8 cups)

2 pounds red onions, cut in half and then thinly cut to resemble half moons

3 cups water

1/4 cup dried thyme (or a bit more fresh thyme)

2 tablespoons dried oregano (or a bit more fresh oregano)

1/2 cup tamari or soy sauce

1/2 cup umeboshi vinegar

Heat the oil in a braising pan or Dutch oven. Add the onions and cook them, uncovered, over medium heat until they are translucent (about 5 to 10 minutes), stirring occasionally to keep them from burning.

Place the carrot pieces on top of the onions. Do not stir them in; leave them in a separate layer from the onions. Cover, turn down the heat, and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.

Add the water, the herbs, the tamari or soy sauce, and the vinegar.

If you have an immersion blender, blend the sauce with it. If not, let the sauce cool slightly and then blend it in a regular blender in small batches.

Andrea Beaudoin serves this sauce over rice noodles. She also likes to add flax-seed tempeh, which she recommends cooking in a pan of water for 20 minutes and then pan frying in oil for 2 minutes on each side. She tops the noodles, sauce, and tempeh with lightly sautéed vegetables.

She notes that the sauce would work with just about any noodles and with chicken or meatballs instead of the tempeh.

Tinky Weisblat of Hawley is the author of “The Pudding Hollow Cookbook” and “Pulling Taffy.” If you have a suggestion for a future Blue Plate Special, please email Tinky at Tinky@TinkyCooks.com. For more information about Tinky, visit her website, www.TinkyCooks.com.

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