Author: Bonny Wolf
About a decade ago, food writer Michael Pollan issued a call to action: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. As 2016 opens, it looks like many American cooks and diners are heeding that call.
Vegetables have moved from the side to the center of the plate. And as another year begins, it appears that plants are the new meat.
Bon Appetit magazine named AL’s Place in San Francisco the best new restaurant of 2015. Meats at AL’s Place are listed under “sides.” The rest of the menu features vegetable-centric dishes sometimes featuring animal protein as an ingredient — pear curry, black lime yellowtail, persimmon, blistered squash. The hanger steak (with smoked salmon butter), however, is a side dish.
This and other restaurants are also using the whole vegetable. What used to go in the compost heap is now fermented, roasted or smoked and used in other dishes. The stem-to-leaf approach follows the example of nose-to-tail eating.
WastED is a project that brings together chefs, farmers, fishermen and food purveyors to “reconceive waste” in the food chain, according to the group’s website.
Eaters in 2016 also are likely to see more dried beans, peas and lentils on their plates. The United Nations has declared this the International Year of Pulses to raise consumer awareness of the nutritional and environmental benefits of the edible dry seeds. Chickpeas seems to be the rising star of the pulse world. They’re not just for hummus anymore.