WCL: Chef Andrew Zimmerman, Sepia

Chef Andrew Zimmerman from Sepia restaurant is a semi-finalist for two prestigious James Beard Awards, Outstanding Wine Program and Best Chef, Great Lakes.

He's here again on WCL to tell us all about it and to give us some great recipes to do at home.

To find out more about Sepia, head to their sepiachicago.com.


Ricotta Gnudi
Chef Andrew Zimmerman, Sepia

2 1/4 cups well drained top quality ricotta
3 1/2 oz grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tsp salt
6 cups semolina flour
1 1/2 cups English Peas, blanched in boiling salted water and shocked in ice water, drained
2 cups sliced maitake mushrooms (or any mushroom you like)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
4 oz or so of Pecorino Pepato cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler
A few leaves of fresh baby arugula for garnish

At least 24-36 hours before you want to cook the gnudi mix the ricotta and the Grana Padano in a bowl and add the salt. Put a generous layer of semolina flour on a baking sheet. Using a small scoop or a spoon scoop out balls of the ricotta mixture about the size of a big gumball. Roll the balls in the flour coating the outside evenly and trying to keep the balls as smooth as possible. When you are done making the balls line them up on the baking pan and put the remaining semolina flour over the top. Leave the ball in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours and up to 48.

While you are waiting for the gnudi to do their thing in the refrigerator, blanch and shock the peas. Also you can cook the mushrooms by heating the olive oil in a large sauté pan and when it is very hot adding the mushrooms. Don't move them around at first just let them sear in the pan. Then add a pinch of salt and toss the mushrooms around a bit. Cook until they are nice and tender and they are no longer giving off any liquid. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl over ice to cook them down as fast as possible. Reserve the mushrooms until you are ready to finish the dish.

To cook the gnudi and finish the dish:

Put the butter in a large sauté pan and add the thyme leaves. Cook until the butter just begins to brown and smell "nutty," then add the peas and cooked mushrooms and lemon zest. Stir to coat with the butter and heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Cook the gnudi in simmering, salted water for 3 MINUTES...too long and they may fall apart...less and they won't be done. Transfer them with a slotted spoon to individual serving plates and spoon the pea and mushroom mixture around the gnudi. Top each serving with a couple slices of the Pecorino and a couple arugula leaves.

Roasted Carrot and Hazelnut Hummus
Chef Andrew Zimmerman, Sepia


1 teaspoon cumin seed, toasted then ground
1 teaspoon coriander seed, toasted then ground
6 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 teaspoon honey
1 pound carrots, trimmed and well-scrubbed
3 large unpeeled cloves garlic, smashed
Flaky sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1 orange
3 tablespoons roasted hazelnut butter


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Have a medium roasting pan at hand.

Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a small dry skillet for about a minute until just fragrant. Use a mortar and pestle to grind them to a fine powder. Transfer to a large bowl; whisk in 4 tablespoons of the oil and all the honey.

Peel the carrots and cut into 1/4-inch chunks, then add to the spiced oil along with the garlic. Toss to coat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Scrape the dressed carrots into the roasting pan and spread in an even layer; roast, turning once, until the carrots are tender and just starting to go golden brown slightly around the edges, 25 to 35 minutes.

Cool slightly, then transfer the roasting pan's contents to a food processor, slipping the garlic cloves out of their skins as you do so and scraping as much of the crusty brown bits, spices and oil as possible into the food processor. Add the lemon and orange juices, hazelnut butter and the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Puree until smooth.

Adjust the seasoning as needed.

Transfer to a serving dish and lightly drizzle with more oil.

Serves 4-6

Roasted Carrots with caraway seed and wildflower honey
Chef Andrew Zimmerman, Sepia

2 lbs carrots, with tops, peeled and some of the green tops reserved
2 tbsp vegetable oil
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tbsp toasted caraway seed
1 1/2 tbsp wildflower honey
About 1 1/2 tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp chopped parsley

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.

Pre-heat a large sauté pan or a roasting pan either in the oven for 15 minutes or on the stove top. You want to start caramelizing the carrots right away so a hot pan is essential.

Add the oil to the pan and then once the oil has heated add the carrots, rolling them around for a couple seconds to coat the carrots in the oil. Then leave them alone for a minute still on the burner. Put the pan in the oven and roast the carrots giving them the occasional toss for about 20 minutes or until they are starting to get nice caramelization on them but where they are still a bit short of cooked. Then toss in the thyme, caraway seed, honey and some of the salt and pepper. Roast about 10 minutes more or until the carrots are nice and tender. Remove from the oven, pick out the thyme stems and add the butter. Toss the carrots in the butter and add the chopped parsley. Put the carrots on a serving platter and scatter some of the carrot greens over as garnish.

Serves 4-6