Whoa Nellie Deli & Root Veggie Stew 

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City Weekly freelance contributor Austen Diamond appreciates gourmet gas station cuisine. He says, “During warm weather, I find myself road-tripping all over the West. However, I’m rarely adventurous with gas-station food—which seems to consist largely of taquitos and questionable meat products on spinning racks. Upon leaving Yosemite National Park and heading to Highway 395 in California, I was encouraged to drop my skepticism at the Whoa Nellie Deli (WhoaNellieDeli.com) at the Tioga Gas Mart in Lee Vining. From prime rib and buffalo meatloaf to a salmon salad and amazing cheesecake, it’s all cooked fresh, with attention to detail and presentation in the station. And, they even have taquitos—though these are filled with lobster. I settled for the “World Famous Fish Tacos,” one topped with ginger coleslaw, one with mango/pineapple/plum salsa and served with Brazilian black beans. To top it off after some gourmet food, there is live music Thursdays and Sundays, where you can buy a six-pack from the gas station and listen to tunes on the lawn, fully decked out with tables and chairs. Now, that’s a swanky roadside attraction!. If you find yourself on the east side of the Sierras, it’s a must-stop.”

Former City Weekly music editor and current on-air host at KRCL Jamie Gadette generously shares her recipe for tasty root veggie stew.

olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable stock
2 pounds roots vegetables (I used carrots, parsnips and golden beets)
1 cup dried green lentils
2 teaspoons each cumin, coriander, oregano, cinnamon, cocoa powder, cayenne pepper
1 can diced red tomatoes

Sautée the onion and red pepper in olive oil until soft (4 minutes or so). Add the garlic and 1/2 cup veggie stock. Let cook a minute or so, then add the lentils. Stir and add spices (I added extra pepper and cocoa powder). Then, give the stew another stir and add the root veggies, tomatoes and remainder of the stock. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Top the finished stew with chopped cilantro and serve with crusty bread.

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