A trip down the grocery aisle reveals spices and ingredients from every corner of the globe. Added to any home-cooked meal and they can elevate an average dish.
But, if you’re not sure how to incorporate some of the more eclectic ingredients into your cooking, the Loblaw Food Council suggests 2017 is the year to experiment.
It recently revealed its top Canadian food trends for 2017 and says, in the New Year, home chefs will be inspired by both global flavours and old-fashioned cooking.
Dan Clapson, Calgary food writer and founder of the website eatnorth.com, has some tips on how to incorporate these trends into your own cooking.
The conscious consumer
Clapson says plant-based and sustainable diets will become even more popular in 2017. Conscientious cooks should start by looking for labeling systems (i.e. SeaChoice) that indicate whether seafood, or meat, is sustainably farmed or caught.
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Scale back on the amount of meat in your diet by opting for alternative proteins, like ‘tempeh’ and ‘tofu’. Clapson suggests making a lasagna with soft tofu, instead of ricotta, or using nut milks in a cream soup.
“Any way you’re going to use ricotta, you could substitute soft tofu”
You can also cut back on food waste by freezing odds and ends like carrot tops, potato peels and onion scraps and using them in soup stock. Clapson also suggests using carrot tops, instead of basil, in pesto.
Finding the time to cook can be a challenge, but Clapson suggests in 2017 more Canadians will be inspired to set aside a few hours on weekends for things like canning and slow cooking. Clapson suggests canning fresh tomatoes from your garden or farmer’s market to enjoy fresh pasta sauce “even in the dead of winter”. Just make sure you have a large pot before you get started.
Spice up your cuisine
The Loblaw Food Council predicts, in 2017, Canadian chefs will increasingly draw on global cuisine for inspiration in the kitchen. Spices like turmeric, za’atar and togarashi are expected to earn a spot on the spice rack, alongside long-time favorites like oregano and basil.
Clapson suggests using turmeric to marinate fish, saying it gives white meat a “nice golden hue”. He also suggests adding it to a basic marinade along with a bit of olive oil, vinegar and honey, or spiking a cocktail with a bit of the bright yellow spice.
“It really adds a nice bright punch of colour.”
Clapson suggests using Za’atar, a combination of oregano, sesame seeds and other spices used in Middle Eastern cooking, to season meat or as a substitute for dry oregano. Togarashi, a spicy assortment of dried chili peppers, is often found at ramen restaurants. Clapson says it makes a great addition to roast poultry or hamburger.