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Pastaless Lasagna?

Earlier this week, I attended the taping of a television show with my daughter, Alex, in the late afternoon. Instead of getting on the freeway and fighting the L.A. traffic at 5 p.m., we decided to grab a bite to eat in Santa Monica.

One of my coworkers, Mary, is an expert on all things foodie, so I texted her for a recommendation. What came back was a flurry of ideas. I decided to go with her first suggestion: FIG Restaurant in Santa Monica.

FIG is located inside the famed Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows at the corner of Wilshire and Ocean Boulevards. It is like an oasis in the middle of a sea of tall buildings and you can see the Pacific Ocean and Santa Monica Pier from the entrance. Chef Ray Garcia says FIG puts ingredients first – “a seasonal bistro with an emphasis on organically grown and locally sourced ingredients.”

So, in we walked at precisely 6 p.m. When I asked for a table for three, the hostess gave me a funny look. She told me that without reservations I could not be seated, even though there were many empty tables. They were completely booked up.

I was taken back a bit. I thought, this must really be the hottest restaurant in Santa Monica after all. So I put on my extra sincere face, put on my selling shoes, and promised her we would finish and be gone before her 7 p.m. reservations arrived. She seated us! (I can be very convincing.)

We quickly scanned the menu and chose our dinner selections. Terri had scallops. Alex had the short rib and pancetta meatloaf, and it was fantastic.

And, since I am trying to eat mostly veggies and legumes at dinner these days, I chose the Pastaless Lasagna. I try to avoid pasta. I’ve discovered that many people are like me and feel bloated when they eat it. With ingredients like Bloomsdale spinach, sweet potatoes and San Marzano tomatoes, I was intrigued.

My coworker Mary goes to the Santa Monica Farmers Market every Wednesday and always brings us back seasonal and good tasting ingredients to inspire us. She has been raving about how much the local chefs love the Bloomsdale spinach and San Marzano tomatoes.

Chef Garcia did not disappoint. The Pastaless Lasagna came out steaming hot in a small shallow gratin pan. Instead of pasta, Chef Garcia layered thin slices of cooked zucchini and cooked sweet potatoes. The fresh San Marzano tomato sauce and Bloomsdale spinach, combined with a small amount of fresh herbs, salt and cheese, was the perfect dinner.

As my family knows, my real weakness is fresh baked bread and butter. Before the meal our server brought us fresh baked French bread. Each mini loaf came wrapped in a special brown bag (pictured below). The butter was actually made of 80% pureed fresh arugula and 20% butter! This spread had a very light “mouth feel” and melted quickly.

This was an almost perfect meal, filled with fresh, seasonal vegetables! We could savor the flavors of each ingredient.

Next time you are Southern California I highly recommend you check out FIG. And if you are there on Wednesday or Saturday morning. . .you can also visit the Santa Monica Farmers Market. It’s a favorite destination of all the top chefs in Southern California!


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