Chefs Meet the Healthy-Cooking Challenge

Russel Ficke of Syosset Hospital, Patty Sobol of Northern Westchester Hospital and Janisa Freysinet of North Shore University Hospital won top honors in the Northwell 2015 Ultimate Healthy Cooking Challenge.
Winners of the Northwell 2015 Ultimate Healthy Cooking Challenge: Russel Ficke (left), Patty Sobol (center) and Janisa Freysinet.

Russel Ficke of Syosset Hospital, Patty Sobol of Northern Westchester Hospital and Janisa Freysinet of North Shore University Hospital won top honors in the Northwell 2015 Ultimate Healthy Cooking Challenge. The trio was among chefs from 15 health system facilities who worked with registered dieticians and dietary interns to create three-course meals of 700 calories or less with limited fat and sodium. Their winning meal included a Gobi Dumplings appetizer and Cauliflower Steak Chana Masala entree, with Pineapple, Peaches and Meringue for dessert.

Every March, Glen Cove Hospital hosts the Ultimate Healthy Cooking Challenge for National Nutrition Month. And every year, Northwell chefs and staff create more than eight million meals, according to event organizer/emcee Michael Kiley, director of nutrition and food services at North Shore University Hospital. 

Winning Entrée: Cauliflower Steak Chana Marsala

Created by Chef Patty Sobol of Northern Westchester Hospital
with Jessica Palumbo, RD, and Lindsey Cohen, RD


Serving size: 8 oz.
Servings: 4
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Secret ingredient: Ginger root

8 oz. cauliflower steaks, 1 inch thick
¼ cup carrots
¼ tsp ginger root, ground
¼ each garlic cloves
¾ tbsp. onion
½ each tomato, plum, finely diced
¼ each tomato, plum, cut into wedges
1/8 each red onion, sliced
¼ tsp. Soy sauce, low sodium, gluten free
¼ tsp. apple cider vinegar
¼ tsp. brown sugar
1/8 cup chick peas
1/8 cup water
1 cup spinach, fresh

Chick Pea Flower Surry
¼ tbsp. poppy seed
¼ tsp. cumin
¼ tbsp. coriander seeds
1 each lemon 
¼ each garlic clove
¼ tsp. dijon mustard
1 each onion, red, diced, firm
¼ tsp. honey
1/8 tsp. sriracha
1/16 cup chick pea flower
1/8 cup water
¼ tbsp. chives, finely chopped

Garam Marsala
¼ tsp. cardamom
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/16 tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. tumeric
¼ tsp. cumin
¼ tbsp. coriander seeds

Yogurt Sauce
¼ tbsp. chives, finely chopped
½ tbsp. non-fat yogurt, plain
½ tbsp. mint, chopped

½ tbsp. cilantro


  1. Combine spices for the garam marsala (cumin, coriander seeds, cardamom, black pepper, tumeric, ground cloves and cinnamon).
  2. Combine in bowl for chick pea flower surry: poppy seeds, cumin, coriander seeds, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, dijon mustard, diced red onion, honey and sriracha.
  3. In a separate bowl combine chick pea flour, water and finely chopped chives.
  4. For the yogurt sauce, combine in bowl, finely chopped chives, plain non fat yogurt, chopped mint. Garnish with cilantro.

Cooking Directions

  1. Chop carrot into thick slices.
  2. Slice cauliflower into 3-inch steaks.
  3. Combine carrots and cauliflower in pot and let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Chop 2 tomatoes into thick wedges (the remaining tomato will be diced). Set aside.
  5. Use nonstick pan and lightly toast the garam spices for 40 seconds (make sure not to burn).
  6. Blend in ginger, garlic and minced onion into the toasted spices and mix well.
  7. Add ¼ cup of water into spice blend and stir continuously.
  8. Combine toasted spiced mixture to the pot containing the cauliflower and carrots that were previously simmered.
  9. Add in the diced tomatoes. Cook on high heat for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  10. Take out each cauliflower steak and coat each in the prepared chick pea flower slurry mix.
  11. Coat on each side thoroughly.
  12. Use nonstick pan, spray with pam.
  13. Sear all cauliflower steaks for 1 minute on each side.
  14. Pour remaining slurry sauce on cauliflower steak.
  15. Lightly brown each side and remove from heat.
  16. In pot, add ½ cup of water, soy sauce, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, carrots, tomatoes wedges and chick peas.
  17. Let simmer for 10 minutes.
  18. Add spinach to pot after 7 minutes.
  19. Remove from heat.
  20. Plate vegetable base followed by 1 cauliflower steak.
  21. Drizzle prepared yogurt sauce on top of each cauliflower steak.

Nutritional Information
213 Calories
268 mg sodium
1.55 g fat

View the winning appetizer and dessert.

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