Plant-based eating is key to Novak Djokovic's success, and Eqvita is an embodiment of his diet
With Wimbledon in full forehand swing, we decided to take a look at Novak Djokovic's Eqvita restaurant.
Plant-based for performance
Novak Djokovic, the Serbian tennis player who spent a whopping 223 weeks ranked world No. 1 in men’s singles by the Association of Tennis Professionals and is widely regarded as one of the best players of all time, has recently opened a vegan restaurant. Eqvita, situated in Monte Carlo in Monaco where Djokovic lives with wife Jelena, opened back in April of 2016 but it is still the subject of much conversation.
Djokovic himself has been almost vegan for about 2 years now, eating a plant-based diet but with the occasional fish dish every once in a while. After discovering he was gluten intolerant in 2010, he removed this from his diet and proceeded to cut out dairy, sugar and meat. He’s still beaming about it too. He has reported that he “feels better than I ever have before”, continuing “I have much more energy, and I’m proud to be a vegan athlete”.
According to an interview with Forbes the night before the US Open began in 2016, Djokovic said he attributes his alertness on court to veganism and says inflammation has decreased with plant-based fuel giving him more consistent energy levels, saying “I attribute a great deal of my professional success to my diet.”
Seeing as he won the French Open 2016 and was runner up in the US Open 2016 this summer, I don’t think we can argue. It hasn’t just enhanced his performance as an athlete, but transformed his whole life and he explained that he opened the restaurant as a way to share with the world the enormous impact food has had on him, claiming it has changed him more than anything else.
Eating at Eqvita
There’s plenty to choose from on the 100% organic, plant-based menu at Eqvita with a variety of pasta dishes, soups, salads and sweet treats. A few examples include the chia porridge, probiotic fruit yoghurt, watermelon tomato gazpacho, burgers, cheesecake or tapioca brûlée.
Perhaps you would try one of the chef’s favourite dishes which is the pea, mint and lime soup and add a little bruschetta, or maybe your taste is more in-line with Djokovic in which case you could opt for one of his favourite dishes – the raw vegan zucchini lasagna made with cashew ricotta. He also hopes to add some Serbian traditional flavour, a diet typically involving a lot of red meat and bread, thus requiring some imaginative alternations that will no doubt fail to disappoint.
With a menu featuring raw, vegan and gluten-free dishes, there’s bound to be something for everyone.
It perhaps comes as no surprise that within a year of opening, Eqvita has proven popular among some celebs who have also been enjoying the vegan delights. These include fellow tennis stars Grigor Dimitrov, Tomas Berdych, Andy Murray, Fabio Fognini, Milos Raonic and Simone Bolelli as well as Lana Del Ray, Danny Glover, Matthew Modine, Prince Albert of Monaco and Princess Charlene. If you aren’t local and have no plans to visit Monte Carlo in the near future, then go ahead and try recreating the zucchini lasagna by following this recipe and see if you can serve as well as Djokovic...
Novak Djokovic's Vegan Lasagne Recipe
For the lasagna:
1 zucchini, thinly sliced on a mandoline
1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
Arugula, oregano, raw cashews and red pepper flakes for garnish
For the sauces:
1 cup of cashews, soaked in filtered water overnight
¼ cup of water
1 tbsp. of nutritional yeast
½ tbsp. lemon juice
¼ tbsp. salt
Combine all ingredients in food processor until mixture reaches the texture of creamy ricotta. Set aside.
For the Pistachio Pesto:
¾ cup of packed basil leaves
¼ cup of packed baby spinach leaves
¼ cup pistachios
3 tbsp. of olive oil
½ tbsp. salt
½ tbsp. lemon juice
A pinch of pepper
Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until well combined. Set aside.
For the Red Pepper Marinara:
¼ cup of sun dried tomatoes, soaked one hour and then squeezed of water
1 tomato, seeded and roughly chopped
½ red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
½ shallot, chopped
1 tbsp of lemon juice
2 tbsp of olive oil
¼ tbsp of salt
2 pinches of red chili flakes
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until well combined. Set aside.
Build the lasagna, starting with the cashew ricotta in the centre of a plate. Place 3-4 slices of zucchini on top, so they’re slightly overlapping lengthwise (make the layer as thick as desired). Spread some pistachio pesto over the zucchini. Layer tomatoes on top of the pesto, and more zucchini on top of that. Spread a generous amount of the red pepper marinara on top. Garnish with fresh arugula, oregano, raw cashews, chili flakes and a drizzle of olive oil if desired.