Pittsburgh Juice Co. is thinking outside the juice box to start a gourmet dinner series starring raw vegan foods.
The first dinner — at 7 p.m. Saturday at Pittsburgh Juice Co.’s production facility at 3101 Penn Ave. in the Strip District — will showcase Italian foods, including “raw-violi,” zoodle alfredo, pesto pizza, raw lasagna and raw tiramisu.
Samantha Stephan, the juice company’s community relations manager, explained how it’s possible to make some of these menu items.
For raw lasagna, she and her co-chef, Pittsburgh Juice Co. co-owner Naomi Homison, will make raw tomato sauce and layer it with very thinly sliced zucchini (in place of noodles), nut-based cheeses and a walnut layer mimicking the consistency of meat.
For tiramisu, they’ll layer coconut cream made with cashew cream, a nut crust and ladyfinger crumbs made of nut flours, dates and spices.
“You have to freeze one layer before you can add another layer,” Ms. Stephan said, noting the finished product looks indistinguishable from traditional tiramisu.
The difficult part of making raw cuisine is that it requires advance preparation to mimic the textures and flavors of standard dishes, Ms. Stephan said.
“You have to rehydrate or marinate things for a really long time,” she said.
For this reason, the deadline to sign up for Saturday’s dinner is Wednesday. It’s $90 per person, and registration is available at pittsburghjuicecompany.com/products/vegan-dinner-series.
All dishes will not only be raw and vegan but also organic, soy-free and gluten-free. Courses will be paired with fine wines and cold-pressed cocktails. Dinners will be capped at 16 attendees.
Upcoming dinners are set for Nov. 18 (American comfort food) and Dec. 9 (Mexican).
The dinner space will open in early 2018 as “Heirloom Superfood Market,” a grocery store selling organic produce, bulk superfoods and local items. Pittsburgh Juice Co. already stocks many of these items for its juice preparations, so the grocery store seemed like a natural addition.
Ms. Stephan and Ms. Homison decided to start the dinner series after Shadyside’s Eden Bistro closed, and the pair noticed a shortage of raw food offerings in the city.
At the first dinner, they’ll sell their vegan Parmesan “cheese” blend.
They’re also planning to design a raw foods recipe booklet that they’ll sell through the Heirloom Superfood store.
Ms. Stephan expects diners will be impressed with the new dinner series.
“We’ll make the food look really beautiful, and I think everybody will feel good, too, because they’ll be eating so many veggies,” she said.
Rebecca Sodergren: email@example.com; @pgfoodevents.