Image source: Smitten Kitchen
Preparing vegetables using culinary techniques traditionally reserved for meat is a culinary trend that is trickling down from several well known celebrity chefs and has now reached the wider blogosphere.
There is an ever growing awareness of the connection between food and health, fueled in no small part by the food blogging scene.
Jamie Oliver’s latest book, Everyday Superfoods, is all about healthy eating. Homegrown talent Chef Michael Smith is working with Canadian lentil growers to produce healthy recipes that make pulses the hero.
The latest expression of the “you are what you eat” trend is that vegetables are getting culinary treatments traditionally associated with meat dishes. The growing consensus is that vegetables don’t have to play second fiddle to meat centerpieces and can be bold and dramatic in their own right.
Deb Perelman, cookbook author and editor of Smitten Kitchen writes:
“Take bacon.... You love the way it’s smoky and salty and crispy and fatty, right? But how much of that has to do with the actual taste of pork belly, versus the way we’ve treated it to make it even more amazing? How much of Korean short ribs are about the unseemly delicious marinade, how much of Southern fried chicken is about that shattering crust, comprise mostly buttermilk, flour and grandma love? How much of barbecued ribs is about the gloriousness of the meat on the bone versus the long tenderizing, smoking and the sweet-salty-spicy stuff we mop or crust on top?
Deb then roasts what she calls broccoli trees with a sexy, steak-inspired dry rub of brown sugar, smoked paprika and chili powder, then serves it with a apple cider vinegar based dipping sauce. We tried it, loved it and highly recommend it.
In one of the star recipes of the book, she takes a whole cauliflower, caramelizes the outside in olive oil and roasts it like a hunk of roast beef, with tomatoes and anchovies for deep flavourings. It’s a pot roast any family would love to gather around, vegetarian or not.
Image source: New York Times
Vegetarian food is rapidly moving from niche to mainstream. While initially fueled mainly by health concerns, there is now a growing desire that vegetables can deliver the flavour punch we have traditionally associated with meat dishes.
For the food producer this means that there is a brand new market opening up for products that deliver on health and flavour at the same time.