What’s especially interesting is that one of his thoughts – that 2017 was going to be the year when vegetables would play an even bigger role on the plate – was echoed throughout the web. More specifically, on December 2016, Eater.com published an article titled “Every Single Food Trend That's Been Predicted for 2017,” and they included links to 81 different food-related predictions. When they needed to choose an image to lead off the article, they certainly had a multitude of choices – and we’d like to point out exactly what they did choose, along with the caption.
The selected picture consisted of beautiful individual vegetable leaves in a rainbow of colors and shapes, with this text underneath: Vegetables, so hot (again) for 2017.
Shortly after that, they pointed out frequently mentioned trends, saying that, “Some lists show consensus, which means those items might be legitimate trends in the next 12 months (congrats, vegetables, food waste, and Filipino cuisine).” You can see the image and list here.
During the year, Farmer Lee made three more targeted predictions, and here are two of them (more about the third one later):
The first post containing his predictions was titled Current Food Trends: Soaring Interest in Sorrel. In it, we noted that multiple tart-flavored morsels doubled in sales. They include ultra-lucky sorrel, Mr. Frye’s rhubarb, demi red ribbon sorrel, mashua leaves and amethyst sorrel. And, additional flavorful sour/tart offerings were also more in demand, even if sales didn’t quite double. These included kinome leaves and the citrus begonia.
You can read the entire article to find what four different chefs had to say about the soaring of sorrel and other tart foods. Meanwhile, here is just one of the comments, offered by Executive Chef Zane Holmquist from Stein Eriksen Lodge. He uses citrus begonia and multiple varieties of our sorrel in his menus, including lucky sorrel, plum sorrel, rainbow sorrel, petite sorrel, red ribbon sorrel and rhubarb. “The varieties in size are fantastic,” he shares, “and the varieties in color are fun. It’s an interesting plant with equally interesting flavors.”
We haven’t seen this trend slow down, and we expect to see it continue into 2018 (and, no, that isn’t one of Farmer Lee’s five predictions for 2018! Think of it as a bonus).
In 2017, Farmer Lee also noted a rise in demand for purple foods in another blog post titled Current Food Trend: Delicious, Nutritious and Colorful Purple Foods. In fact, we’ve been so dazzled by purple foods that we declared that hue to be the new black:
(Did you notice how Pantone declared a shade of purple to be the color of the year for 2018?)
You can read our entire blog post about purple foods to find out more, including what multiple chefs have to say about the magnificence of purple vegetables. Executive Chef Gregg Zeringue, as just one example, shares that he uses the following purple veggies: Chinese long beans, and purple carrots, potatoes, beans, cauliflower and asparagus. How about you?
Drum roll, please!
Predictions for 2018 include the rise in popularity of:
Here are just five unique herbs to consider adding to your menus in 2018.
Lemon bergamot adds a subtly delicious lemon flavor and aroma to dishes and drinks, ranging from salads to biscuits, from cheesecake to teas, from fish dishes to cocktails and mocktails (more about that later!) and more. You can even chop it up to add extra flavoring to ice cubes. Meanwhile, flowers with whorls of purple, pink and white add beauty to the plate.
Lovage has a long history in the garden and in the kitchen, going back to medieval times. This quirkily amazing herb belongs to the carrot and parsley family, features bold celery-like taste, and bursts with vitamins B and C. You can use all this versatile plant, adding it to soups and stews, salads and more.
Fresh red shiso offers up a sweet taste, followed up by a cinnamon flavor, and then a strong taste of mint. Stems are succulent, with a nice crunch, while leaves are tender. Fresh green shiso, on the other hand, is less sweet and provides a curry-like flavor, along with a combo of flavors of cilantro, parsley and a hint of cinnamon. No matter the color, shiso is another unique and versatile herb.
Nepitella mint is another intriguing herb, one that combines flavors of mint and oregano in a subtly delicious way. This crunchy green treasure makes sense to use throughout a menu, from cocktail/mocktail hour to dessert, and is an ideal additional to Italian cooking (while not being limited to that specialty). Nepitella mint pairs well with beef and lamb, plus mushroom dishes as well as dishes using the spectrum of fresh green vegetables. To add this unique flavor to your dishes in an even more eye-catching way, use the blooms of this flavorful herb.
Then there is anise hyssop, an herb with bold anise flavor, one that offers up the unmistakable fragrance of black licorice – but one that also features notes of lemon, pine, sage, black pepper and camphor. This herb is beautifully complex, with its leaves and flowers adding a punch of flavor in drinks and dishes alike. What soup could you build around this luscious herb? Which dessert?
While Farmer Lee sees the sour/tart trend continuing, bitter flavors are also rising to the top. Here are five delicious examples.
Arugula is filled to the brim with vitamins and minerals, and can offer up nutty-sweet-peppery goodness at first bite. This herb, part of the mustard family, has long been a staple of salads in Southern Europe, and is called by numerous other names, including rugula, roquette, garden rocket and salad rocket. This lovely green can be used in so many ways that you’ll never run out of fresh ideas.
Brussels sprouts are also moving to the spotlight. “When people say they don’t like Brussels sprouts,” Lee has said, “I find myself wondering if they’ve ever eaten them at the right time of year. This luscious vegetable is one that physically can be harvested early and, to the eye, all looks fine. But we don’t do that because frost is what brings the sugar levels – and therefore the flavor – up.”
Kalettes have been less commonly seen in kitchens, but we see that changing – with chefs visiting The Chef’s Garden serving as part of the momentum for change. Whenever Farmer Lee shows them the sweet, nutty, mild and lovely kalette – and shares how this vegetable can be paired with apples or oranges, beets or onions, or with tomato and feta cheese, as part of stir fries and more, the imagination of the chefs kicks in, and then they devise unique ways to delight their diners with kalettes.
Meanwhile, dandelion offers up unique notes, mild yet delicious. Imagine a mouthwatering bitter flavor, followed up by a robust chicory-like, peppery finish. This green is chock full of vitamins and can add a whole new flavor layer to pork, bacon and ham dishes, egg concoctions, pasta creations, soups, salads, sandwiches and more. Mix this delightful plant in with lettuces for an unexpected burst of flavor.
Then there’s the beauty of fresh nasturtium leaves. They offer up a rainbow of flavor profiles, including – but not limited to – bitter peppery delights. The word “nasturtium” literally means “nose twist” in Latin, because of its powerful presence. Bite down on a leaf for a surprisingly pleasant texture: crisp, soft but strong – and you’ll realize how this leaf can add flavor, texture and nutrients to numerous dishes.
Edible flowers add beauty to any plate, and in 2018 we expect to see a surge in the usage of flowers that also provide a layer of flavor. The biggest boost, Farmer Lee suspects, will be in vegetable blooms, although the impact will be more widespread than that.
Here are five excellent choices.
Arugula blossoms are peppery additions to soups and salads, sandwiches and eggs dishes, greens, grains and more, boasting a nutty undertone. The flavor of blooms is somewhat milder than that of the leaves, but they’re still packed with zest. Blossoms are four-petaled, arranged crosswise on the stem, with colors ranging from a delicious cream to a fuller yellow. Veins are delicate purple and green.
White pea blossoms allow chefs to add a delicate taste of fresh pea flavor to plates, while also offering up beauty and crunch. Pea blossoms are slightly sweet with a crunchy texture, and have a place across menus, from salads to fish dishes, and a wide range of confectionary delights and desserts.
Bean blooms are ideal when you want to add a layer of mild wintergreen flavor to dishes, along with beauty and crunch to the plate. Fava bean blooms come in more than one color and they also offer up a pleasant fragrance. They are excellent to use in salads and sandwiches, in delicate pasta dishes and more.
Then there are the borage blooms. Blue borage provides a mild cucumber flavor to your dishes, a taste sometimes described as comparable to sweet honey with a mildly salty touch. White borage also boasts a mild cucumber taste, with both colors of borage providing a very juicy texture.
Finally, there are begonias, an edible flower that comes in multiple varieties, each looking stunning on the plate. We’ve already mentioned citrus begonias, a citrusy-sour beauty that adds delicate texture to dishes. The cosmopolitan begonia features a mildly tart taste with sweeter notes; the sangria begonia has a similar flavor with an intense coloring, ranging from reds to almost black.
The trend of cocktails and mocktails that use farm-fresh ingredients keeps growing, as we predicted in our April 2017 post, Still Trending: Temperance Cocktails, Including Farm to Table Cocktails – and Farmer Lee predicts we’re still in the growth stage of this movement.
As far as mocktails go, the movement began with Charlie Trotter who saw the “empty glass as a vehicle for extending his culinary vision,” and who has been “matching custom-designed alcohol-free beverages with his complex food since the 1980’s.”
In 2004, Thomas Keller opened the innovative New York restaurant Per Se where he also offers non-alcoholic beverage pairings. Other establishments where this now takes place include Atera, where Executive Chef Ronny Emborg offers “virgin libations based on classic cocktails” and Acadia creates a delicious Elixir Vegetal that Farmer Lee loves. Picture fresh-juiced celery, fortified with French mango vinegar, then joined by a local ginger & raspberry kombucha, before being given a dusting of fennel pollen – and you’ll see why this is such an in-demand drink.
And at Roots 2016, Charlotte Voisey, the director of advocacy for William Grant & Sons USA, demonstrated making a luscious Carrot Collins, a play on the traditional Tom Collins.
The Carrot Collins includes gin, juiced carrot, fresh lemon juice, soda water and strawberry – and, for garnish, a begonia petal and fresh fennel. You can find more information about Charlotte Voisey here – and here are two different blog posts about mocktails served at Roots 2017, one from The Chef’s Garden and one from the Culinary Vegetable Institute.
At the Culinary Vegetable Institute, Executive Chef Jamie Simpson is also heavily involved in the temperance movement, creating non-alcoholic beverage pairings that extend the flavors incorporated into the evening’s meal – and creating a stellar experience for people who choose not to drink alcohol.
He and his team plan to continue to expand this endeavor into 2018 and beyond, creating mocktails and other unique beverages through techniques ranging from forced carbonation to fermentation, and from cold-pressing vegetables, incorporating bitters and much more to extend the dining experience into what is presented in a glass. Those who choose temperance pairings can enjoy the same benefit of flavors and experiences as those who select wine or cocktail pairings, perhaps starting with a palate-cleansing carbonated drink before moving to something rich and earthy – and then something sweet or savory.
Unique teas may consist of farm-fresh ingredients such as sweet potato skins, corn silk and herbs, steeped into a hot or cold beverage, while carrots, parsnips and sorrel may be cold-pressed into juice. Bitters used might range from fresh walnuts gleaned from the property – or dandelion greens or citrus peels – while kombucha could be crafted from pineapple mint and smoked lapsang souchong.
Finally, Farmer Lee expects to see increasing numbers of chefs using produce with unique shapes and structures that add an element of surprise and beauty on the plate. Microgreens and petite greens that have body, distinctive structure and, of course, flavor are showing a comeback of late.
For example, there’s citrus lace. As the picture above shows, these leaves somewhat resemble the shape of a lacy Christmas tree, with each edible leaf offering up a tangerine flavor with citrus zest. These leaves will add color, texture, flavor and nutrients in creative dishes. These silky-textured leaves are actually a member of the marigold family and you can find more information here.
With micro sea cress, you can picture a tangle of dry pine needles, as shown below – ones that add a mild salty, slightly bitter taste to culinary dishes. The texture is crunchy and chewy yet tender, and it adds a masterful touch of flavor to fish and other seafood dishes. Think aromatic and earthy – and you’ve got sea cress.
Hibiscus leaves resemble a lacy maple leaf, beautifully red, offering up a tangy flavor that resembles cranberries. You can make a delicious drink from these tart, citrusy leaves, and you wouldn’t even need to add sweetener. They also provide a marvelous taste to salads, and the sky is the limit when it comes to hibiscus used in desserts.
Sweet potato leaves come in multiple colors, including purple ones. These leaves are soft, delicate and somewhat crunchy. Then there are the neon sweet potato leaves that come in eye-catching colors of yellow and orange, and are somewhat heart-shaped. These leaves are rich in nutrients, somewhat like spinach or kale in flavor.
Finally, we end this point with Calvin pea tendrils with their vibrant green tightly curled fronds. These tendrils have a beautifully silky texture, with an incredibly sweet flavor. You can find more information about these unique tendrils invented by Calvin Lamborn, inventor of the sugar snap peas. Discover how he cross-pollinated varieties with amazing flavor to come up with this gem.
Thank you very much for all your support in 2017! All of us at The Chef’s Garden and the Culinary Vegetable Institute look forward to serving you again in 2018!