Hold onto your surfboard: Malibu is emerging as L.A.’s modern agricultural oasis. Vineyards are covering more and more of the rolling seaside foothills, fruit orchards are cropping up in expansive backyards and beekeeping suits are becoming as common as wetsuits.
Helene Henderson’s new Malibu Farm Cookbook—a collection of recipes served at her Malibu Farm café at the tip of the Malibu Pier—reads like a love letter to the burgeoning pastoral gifts of the ‘Bu, where she’s been a farm-to-table pioneer.
After moving there in 2008, Henderson began cooking farm dinners and teaching cooking classes on her two-acre property, where she raises chickens and goats and grows fruits and vegetables. The venture grew into a pop-up restaurant and the permanent café in 2013.
In keeping with the café’s commitment to local purveyors, the book is organized by ingredient source. You’ll find chapters on egg dishes “from the coop,” honey-kissed dishes “from the hive” (like this delicious preparation for kabocha squash, below) and fish dishes “from the sea,” as well as tips on where to source your own local ingredients.
Henderson’s recipes emphasize abundant seasonal produce and minimalist preparations that favor olive oil, herbs and lemon over heavy sauces and seasonings. She is keen on employing ingredients in their most-natural, least-processed state. “Eat the real thing,” she says, “or don’t eat it at all.”
Now that’s a wave we definitely want to ride.
23000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu
Kabocha Squash with Black Lentils and Honey
1 whole kabocha squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup black lentils, cooked per package instructions
Crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons raw honey
¼ cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
Place the whole squash in a large pasta pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and cut into wedges, thin or thick. Leave the green skin on or remove it.
Drizzle a sheet pan with olive oil and lay the cut wedges on it. Bake in a preheated 400° oven for 20 minutes, turning once half way through. Season the cooked squash wedges with salt.
Whisk together the honey lemon dressing. Toss the squash with the dressing and cooked lentils. If desired, garnish with arugula and crumbled feta cheese.