THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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Archive for April 11, 2015

TRENDS: Restaurant Produce

Many of us who love to cook get ideas from creative restaurant chefs. It’s their job to present new and different preparations to tempt customers.

It could be as simple as produce (NB the onslaught of kale, first in restaurants, then in our homes). What’s next?

Nation’s Restaurant News polled nearly 1,300 chefs in its annual What’s Hot survey. The chefs pointed to produce that distinguishes them from their competitors and gives them cred for sourcing specialty items. Here are what they see as the top produce trends for 2015.

LOCALLY GROWN PRODUCE

Consumers like to see locally grown produce on the menu. It shows support for the community, an appreciation for seasonality and reduction of carbon miles, the extra fuel required to the transport food from farther distances. It is the top trend noted by the chefs in the survey.

 

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Easy for home cooks: Try chervil instead of parsley. Photo courtesy HerbTable.com.

 
ORGANIC PRODUCE

Americans have growing awareness of the desirability of organic produce—fruits and vegetables raised without artificial pesticides or fertilizers. “Organic” on a menu is well received (even when consumers don’t buy organic produce for their own kitchens); and all-organic chains such as Sweetgreen are finding success.
 

UNUSUAL HERBS

It’s time to think beyond parsley. Chefs with classical French training are turning to chervil as a garnish, Mexican restaurants are wrapping more foods in hoja santa and Japanese chefs are using kinome, leaves of the sansho/Szechuan pepper plant.

 
HEIRLOOM FRUIT

Heirloom apples, grown from seeds that are passed down from generation to generation, are making a comeback. Heirloom foods fell out of favor because they are more difficult to grow, more expensive and/or other reasons that made farmers turn to other varieties—even if those varieties are less flavorful. You can look for heirloom varieties in your local farmers market. Ask the farmer to point them out.

 
EXOTIC FRUIT

Chefs have a growing interest in fruit that’s a little out of the ordinary. It could be açaí and goji berries added to fruit beverages and fruit salads, or desserts made with Asian pear or dragon fruit.

What’s your favorite fruit or veggie trend?

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Hummus Salad

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Use hummus as the base of a salad. Photo courtesy Chalk Point Kitchen | NYC.

 

Last month we featured 20 different ways to use hummus. But we left off at least one: this hummus salad.

This appetizer concept, by Executive Chef Joe Isidori of Chalk Point Kitchen in New York City, piles crunchy veggies atop a base of hummus, served with a side of pita wedges.

First, consider the hummus. Chef Isidori makes his own, but if you’re buying yours, check out the myriad of flavored hummus—everything from roasted garlic to spicy chipotle.

Cut up your “salad”—beets, carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, olives, pickled vegetables (Chef Isidori used pickle onions, we used dilly beans), radishes, etc.—and toss it lightly in a vinaigrette. You can top the hummus with romaine or other crunchy lettuce before adding the other vegetables.

For a final flourish, top with minced fresh herbs and some optional feta cheese, and serve with toasted pita chips.

You can easily turn this into a light lunch or vegan dinner, and feel good that you’re eating healthfully, sustainably and tastily.

 
We’ve also got 20+ ways to make a hummus sandwich.

EASY VINAIGRETTE RECIPE

There’s no need to buy bottled vinaigrette. Just open a bottle of olive oil and a bottle of vineagar—two kitchen staples—measure them in a ratio of 3:1 and whisk vigorously.

Start with 3 tablespoons of oil and 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and a pinch of dry mustard. The latter helps the emulsion stay together and contributes a wee bit o flavor.

The magic comes when you use different oils—flavored oils, nut oils—and vinegars; substitute lemon or lime juice for some or all of the vinegar; and add other flavor dimensions such as condiments (chopped olives, mustard, relish), heat, herbs and sweetness (honey, maple syrup).

Here’s our master article on how to create great vinaigrette.

  

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