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August's Can't-Miss Dish
August's Can't-Miss Dish
Looking for a no-fail, mouthwatering, gonna-tell-your-friends-about-it plate? Each month, Boston Globe columnist Ellen Bhang highlights the dish you need to try right now.
On the plate: Pide
Where to find it: If you’ve been tracking local vegan options over the last few years, you know that Littleburg Vegetable Kitchen—the brainchild of chef-owner Graham Boswell—began as a series of pop-ups, then pivoted to meal delivery at the start of the pandemic. Now, Littleburg offers takeout at its very own counter in Somerville’s Union Square, tucked between Bronwyn and the not-so-secret door leading to Backbar. Inspired by cuisines of the eastern Mediterranean, the menu showcases dishes like Spanakopita, Tahini Hummus, and Saffron Fried Rice—all made without meat, eggs, or dairy. Boswell, who cut his culinary teeth at Oleana and Taco Party, can talk about how eating vegan is better for the planet; but he would rather share what motivates him. “For me now, at the forefront, the thing that’s most present in my mind is deliciousness,” he says.
Notes on the nosh: At first glance, a teardrop-shaped pie called Pide might remind you of khachapuri, a cheese-stuffed bread hailing from the country of Georgia. But pide (pronounced “PEA-deh”) is Turkish stuffed flatbread, traditionally filled with ground meat, cheese, and frequently topped with an egg before baking. If a customer asks what pide is like, Boswell might compare it to a pizzeria favorite. “You could say it’s kind of like a calzone,” he says with an easy laugh, “but that really doesn’t do justice to the dish.”
To make the crust, chef-and-baker Boswell uses flour made from Redeemer wheat, a flavorful heirloom variety grown in Hardwick, Mass., freshly ground for the eatery by Elmendorf Baking Supplies in Cambridge. Lentils, simmered gently with leeks, tomato, and a fragrant dash of cinnamon, are spread onto the dough. After baking, Boswell tops the finished pie with dollops of hazelnut sauce. The creamy-garlicky condiment mimics the mouthfeel of the oozy yolk you would find on the traditional version.
Packed in a pizza box with Greek pepperoncini and pickled vegetables—fiddleheads and cauliflower florets were in the mix one evening—this delightful entree is warm and satisfying. (It also takes well to crisping in the oven when you get home.) Turning out vibrant, plant-based fare is all in a day’s work for this can’t-stop, won’t-stop chef.
“Part of being vegan is thinking outside the box and really looking at everything with fresh eyes,” Boswell says. “My hope is that someone takes a bite and thinks, ‘There’s a whole new world of food out there to dig into.’”