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Pairing #3 of McCormick’s 2010 Food Trends is Caraway & Bitter Greens.
Caraway seeds are actually a fruit, not a seed. The caraway plant looks similar to a carrot plant, with feathery leaves and thread-like divisions. The “seeds” are small, crescent-shaped achenes (an achene is a one-seeded fruit; the seed has a thin wall, such as a sunflower seed). Caraway seeds have a licorice-like flavor and are frequently used in rye breads, crackers, cheeses and liqueurs. (We love to mix them into sauerkraut, too.)
“Bitter greens” refers to a variety of dark green, leafy vegetables, including spinach, collards, chard and kale. The name “bitter greens” is no misnomer. When cooked, these veggies have a distinctive (and desirable) bitter flavor that juxtaposes well against other strong flavors. Examples include collards cooked with bacon or spinach salad topped with a sweet lemon poppyseed dressing.
No humdrum greens: an exciting grilled
salad with blue cheese. Photo courtesy McCormick.com.
In this recipe for Grilled Bitter Greens with Caraway Peach Dressing, radicchio and endive are added to baby greens, perfectly accented with a nutty-sweet dressing of caraway seeds and peach preserves. The unmistakable caraway spice tames the bitter bite of bold greens. A scattering of pungent blue cheese finishes the dish.
By the way, caraway was also an early candy, dating back to at least the 17th century. Tiny seeds coated with many layers of sugar were a popular confection known as a comfit (not confit). The original sugarplums were sugar-coated coriander (the seeds of cilantro). Aniseed was also a popular comfit.
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