Here’s my pick of what may (or may not) be hot this year. Keep an eye out for some seasonal creations using this wonderful bunch throughout 2017:
The humble Cauliflower is beginning to have its well-deserved time in the Brassica sun. For those looking to lower meat consumption it also offers a hearty alternative. My favourite way is to roast. Break your florets up, a good glug of oil, some seasoning and whacked into a very hot oven for 20 minutes will make you see cauliflower in a totally different light.
Try – Roasting a whole cauliflower basted in garlicky herb butter.
Look out for – Purple Cauliflower – Super healthy and amazing to look at.
Like Stephen Fry, David Attenborough and Tony Blair, Kale has reached national treasure status these past few years. From steaming, frying, and roasting, its versatility is renowned. Seeing this success someone had the bright idea of doing the same with Brussel Sprouts, the after-dinner, room clearer. A hybrid between the two, Kalettes look like teeny tiny purple cabbages, sweet, nutty and delicious.
Try – Roasting till the leaves are crisp.
Look out for – Availability is between November and March so get them while you can.
3. Purple Veg
The craze for coloured brassicas and purpley potatoes isn’t just due to their psychedelic appearance but also their nutritional richness. From cauliflower to carrots, and yes, even our beloved corn, their rich hue is an indicator of high levels of nutrients and anthocyanins, a form of antioxidant, a helper in preventing cancer, ageing and acts as an anti-inflammatory.
Try – Ube. A yam found in Filipino Cuisine. Unlike most root veg its sweet nutty and vanilla flavouring sees it popping up in desserts.
Look out for – More purple cauliflowers and carrots in your local green grocers.
Unlike your typical pickle, the craze for fermented food carries with it an air of mystique. Kimchi, the Korean side dish of cabbage, is perhaps the most popular. Its astringent taste and pungent aroma are uncompromisingly different but strangely addictive. Fermentation naturally breaks down sugars and starches creating ‘good’ bacteria that helps with digestion and the body’s absorption of nutrients.
Try – Impress your friends and science geeks by making your own Kimchi – Your sandwiches will never be the same again.
Look out for – Booze. Making Alcohol works on the same process as fermentation, and while past experience would suggest the health benefits aren’t quite the same I’m going to convince myself otherwise.
Poké (pronounced po-kay) is a traditional Hawaiian cuisine, similar to Japanese sushi. It usually consists of cubed raw tuna, marinated in soy sauce and sesame oil, on a bed of rice, but ranges from anything from octopus to avocado and can even be enjoyed with tortilla chips. Its popularity has arisen from the west coast of America where healthy eating trends mean high impact flavours and the freshest of ingredients. Who could argue with that?
Try – Ditching your sushi and ceviche and experimenting with black rice and some super fresh, raw yellow fin tuna.
Look out for – Poké at Kerb food markets around London.
Spice mixes are versatile things meaning they can be used for almost anything from perking up a stew to turning into marinade or simply having with oil and bread. Duukah, something we used in our Happy Lunch last year, has been growing in popularity because, unlike a lot of spice mixes, its use of nuts and seeds gives it more of a texture and bite as opposed to just bringing flavour to dishes.
Try – Making your own Duukah, there is no right or wrong so this is very much a ‘what’s in the cupboard’ recipe
Look out for – Duukah, Ras el Hanout or Baharat in your local food store.
Like liquorice, and rainy seaside holidays, rhubarb has often been seen as something from a bygone era. Who wants rhubarb crumble when you can have chocolate fudge cake? Well this year, it turns out you would, otherwise all your cool friends might laugh at you. My own epiphany happened when I paired some cooked rhubarb with some mackerel. The sharp sweetness cutting through the oily fish was a revelation and, as chefs try and blur the lines between sweet and savoury, rhubarbs versatility makes it a cut above the rest.
Try – Making rhubarb compote. Super easy and takes no time at all
Look out for – When out of season try ‘forced’ rhubarb, its blush red skin and sour notes can light up an otherwise boring dish.