Above and Beyond, Part 1 | Culinary Trends to Watch and Savor

Assorted types of root vegetablesBeyond kale, beyond sriracha, beyond sweetened yogurt

Although Heidi Klum’s famous Project Runway line, “One day you’re in and the next day you’re out,” pertains to fashion design, the words could just as easily describe trendy foods. Each year food experts publish their lists of what’s in and what’s out. So we’re jumping into the fray, too, with our projections.

Beyond kale

Most consumers may not even know these new hot, homey vegetables. They’re called the ugly root vegetables: celery root, parsnips, and kohlrabi. They’re great pureed, fried, mashed, and even gratineed. They can be flavored with meat or honey.  They can be used instead of potatoes. You’ll see these vegetables popping up on restaurant menus. By the way, parsnip fries and chips are terrific (and many home cooks have been using parsnips in their chicken soup for hundreds of years!).

Beyond sriracha

The bolder, the better seems to suit American tastes. We can look to peppers and sauces from Asia, North Africa, as well as Latin America to add zest to our food. These peppers can include the following:

  • Sweet chili
  • Ghost pepper
  • Harissa
  • Habanero
  • Serrano
  • Shishito
  • Togarashi

They can be added to appetizers, soups, entrees, and condiments like spicy mayos and aiolis. Of particular note is what’s hailed as the “new chipotle”: a chile-and-vinegar condiment from Thailand. But you’ll also see more sweet-and-sour combinations like adding honey to pepper for a new condiment sensation, including jams, jellies, sauces, and salad dressings.

Beyond sweetened yogurt

Despite the advertising, sweetened yogurt may not be the healthiest choice. Its calories are filled with sugar. Arriving on the scene are wiser choices, like vegetable yogurt: butternut squash, beet, parsnip, sweet potato, carrot, and tomato, to name a few. More savory varieties are making their way onto menus. How about kimchee yogurt? Or yogurt with hummus? Yogurt mixed with zaatar, a mix of thyme, sumac, and olive oil? Yogurt with spinach and garlic? Cucumber and mint? Avocado with basil? Chickpeas? Pine nuts? Quinoa? While some of these yogurt concoctions have long been common in the Middle East, they’re just now making their way onto the American culinary scene. You’ll see these choices in some cafes, yogurt bars, Whole Foods, and online. They can be served and consumed on their own or used for sauces, dressings, and dips. Experiment on your own with a spice mix spurred by your imagination.