WELL AND GOOD, April 20th, 2012. By Lisa Elaine Held. View original here.



Eataly may bring to mind images of decadent cheeses and cured meats, but now, it also wants to serve as a healthy cooking school for veggie-loving New Yorkers.

The gourmet food court announced last week that it was adding a new 40-seat classroom and expanding the instructional kitchen at La Scoula di Eataly. And as the school grows, monthly “Meatless Monday” classes with Eataly’s Vegetable Butcher Alicia Walter and La Verdure Chef Kiah Lotus are front-and-center on the curriculum.

Mario Batali has long been an outspoken supporter of the Meatless Monday campaign (although he doesn’t skimp on osso bucco the other 6 days of the week), and Walter, inspired by his enthusiasm, thought New Yorkers would love to learn more about the culinary possibilities of vegetables.

“I’ve been a vegetarian since the age of 14, and Italy has a rich history of celebrating vegetables—it seemed like the perfect pairing,” she says.

And don’t worry, the vegetables are not all hiding beneath mozzarella and ricotta at Eataly. “These preparations are light on formaggi and butter because we want the flavor and texture of the vegetables to take center stage,” explains Walter.

For $90, students brush up on cooking skills, get some Italian history and culture 101, and enjoy a four-course meal food paired with Italian wines. The chef instructors do the heavy lifting in the kitchen, but the demonstrations are interactive. You might get to practice rolling gnocchi dough, for example.

Classes focus on one region at a time: soon they’ll celebrate “Spring in Umbria” (think fava beans, lentils, chard, and truffles) and “Spring in Rome” (bring on the artichokes and escarole).

Consider it a passport for your palette.