If you like eating out of a bowl, enjoy flavorful, house-made sauces, and simple, more traditional cooking ingredients, then you are going to like what the new year brings on the food front.
Local chefs, food bloggers, home cooks and industry analysts say 2017 is full of fun food trends that will expand on already popular concepts as well as introduce some new ones.
If you didn’t get enough of poke last year – the popular Hawaiian dish made with bite-size pieces of raw fish – get ready for more. A new poke restaurant will be opening soon in the Park Crossing shopping center at Friant Road and Fresno Street.
The local owners of Butterfish California Poke promise fresh ingredients, house-made sauces and endless combinations.
“Each of our signature bowls are thoughtfully paired with handmade sauces, bases and toppings with our proteins for unforgettable flavor profiles,” says Rema Koligian, one of the owners.
Adding to the poke frenzy will be a second location of the already popular Pokiland at 1189 E Champlain Drive. The new store will be in Clovis.
Local food bloggers Linda Davis and Debra Clark say one of the attractions to places like Pokiland and Farm Fresh Bowls is the concept of putting a meal in a bowl. That trend is expected to get stronger in 2017 as people look for healthier eating options.
“Bowls are popular because they are filled with lean proteins, crunchy vegetables and are topped with tasty sauce,” says Clark, creator of www.bowl-me-over.com. “It’s a great and convenient way to dive in your meal.”
It’s also an easy way to control portions and can be more visually appealing than a plate of food. And while meat usually tops the bowl, it doesn’t have to take center stage.
Davis, who writes www.MySweetCalifornialife.com, says we can expect to see more fruit bowls, breakfast bowls, burrito bowls, and even smoothie bowls using the ingredients of a smoothie without the blending.
“Remember when we went from the burritos or tacos to lettuce-wrapped versions of them?” she says. “Well, now the trend is to eliminate the lettuce and just put everything in a bowl.”
A recent study by the National Restaurant Association identified 20 nationwide food trends including new cuts of meat, street-food inspired dishes, healthy kids meals, house-made charcuterie, ethnic-inspired breakfast items, house-made condiments, ancient grains, artisan ice cream and savory desserts.
Fans of quinoa, a popular ancient grain, can expect to see more grains in use including kamut, amaranth and freekeh. Consumers are embracing the grains because they are high in protein and some are gluten-free.
Tawnie Kroll, a nutritionist and author of the blog www.krollskorner.com, says she has been experimenting with grains for a while, including quinoa and freekeh. She recently created a pilaf recipe using freekeh, a grain with a slightly smoky flavor and a nutty, chewy texture.
Catherine Heaney, owner of Char in Visalia and CHARburger in Fresno, is a big believer in house-made condiments. She prides herself on creating something special to complement her premium hamburgers, fries and tater tots. She’s created an aged melty cheddar for the burgers and a truffle cheddar sauce for the tots.
“Condiments are critical and switching them up can completely change a dish,” Heaney says. “They are fun to play around with.”
Heaney says people are becoming more amenable to good fats and looking for foods that are less processed.
Part of that interest in fats has contributed to growing use of good old-fashioned lard. Although once shamed for being unhealthy, it’s made a comeback thanks to cooks who praise its flavor in cooking and baking.
Even Whole Foods Market, a bastion for healthy and organic products, carries a line of beef tallow, pork lard and duck fat. Chef Hillori Hansen, a culinary specialist at Whole Foods Fresno, believes that one of the reasons lard has come back into fashion is because of the resurgence in using traditional ingredients.
“We are eating what our great-grandmothers used to eat and using traditional ingredients more and more,” Hansen says. “You are also starting to see people make their own bone broth.”
One of those who revels in making her own bone broth is Donna Mott, owner of Ooh De Lolli Kitchen Works and Fine Edibles. When eating at a restaurant, Mott doesn’t hesitate to ask for the bones of her pork chop or rib-eye steak. And she thinks more people will be doing the same, especially as they become more aware of food waste.
“And using bones to make broth is an excellent way to not only make something delicious, but it’s also a way to upcycle something that may be thrown away,” Mott says.
Mexican vegetarian burrito bowls
By Linda Davis
½ cup brown rice
1½ cup water
2 cups torn baby spinach
One 14-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
½ teaspoon minced garlic
¼ cup finely chopped chives
¼ cup chopped almonds
½ cup Monterey jack cheese
Salsa, if desired
12 cherry tomatoes cut in half
Combine rice and water in a large microwaveable bowl and cook on high for 10 minutes. Then cook on medium power for 15-17 minutes. Let rest in microwave for 5 minutes.
Carefully remove bowl and fluff with a fork. Add almonds and chives and mix. In a small bowl stir, then cook, black beans and garlic in microwave for 1 minute, or until warmed through.
In a large mixing bowl, stir 2 cups hot cooked brown rice and 2 handfuls torn baby spinach together until spinach wilts. Divide rice evenly among serving dishes and top each with about ½ cup warm black beans mixed with minced garlic and a pinch of pepper. Sprinkle with cheese and top with a few baby tomatoes cut in half or salsa, if desired.
Breakfast polenta bowl
By Linda Davis
1 cup water
1 cup whole milk
½ teaspoon kosher sea salt
½ cup instant or quick-cooking polenta (I use Golden Pheasant brand)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
2 cup baby spinach
5 or 6 baby orange tomatoes, cut in half
In a large skillet, over medium heat, spray with cooking spray. Crack eggs into warmed skillet and cook about 5 minutes, cooking on each side.
Meanwhile, bring water, milk, and salt to a gentle boil over medium heat in a large saucepan.
Pour in polenta in a thin stream, continuously whisking. Decrease heat to maintain a gentle simmer and whisk polenta until it thickens, 4 to 5 minutes.
Remove from heat. Add butter and stir until melted, then stir in cheese. Pour into bowls, top with spinach, and add cooked eggs on top. Garnish with tomatoes. Serve hot.
By Tawnie Kroll
3 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, jar or fresh, divided
1 cup freekeh
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups chicken broth, or water (I used low-sodium organic chicken broth)
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 handful of fresh mint, parsley, and cilantro, chopped
3/4 cup Greek yogurt, plain, nonfat
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Place oil, onion, and 1 clove garlic into saucepan. Sauté on medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add freekeh to pot, and then add the cinnamon, allspice, coriander, salt and pepper. Add chicken broth or water and bring to a boil.
Cover, reduce heat to low. Let simmer for 20 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let sit for 5 minutes, covered. Then, remove lid and fluff with fork.
Stir in herbs, mix well, and top with pine nuts. Wonderful alternative for rice pilaf!
Optional: Mix together 3/4 cup Greek yogurt, remaining garlic, and lemon juice and place on top of pilaf.