The Food Channel has released its top ten side dish trends, the latest in its regular trend reports prepared in conjunction with CultureWaves, Mintel International, and the International Food Futurists.
“Side dishes used to be one of those things you could ignore,” said Kay Logsdon, editor in chief of The Food Channel. “They were just ‘there.’ But lately we’ve noticed that side dishes are a prominent part of the meal—to the point of overtaking the center-of-the-plate.”
Adds Logsdon: “In a hurting economy, anything that stretches the meal is in high favor. The rise in ethnic influences, regional dishes, and fresh seasonal availability has all influenced this trend.”
The side dish trends, sponsored by McCain Harvest Splendor Sweet Potato Selections, include:
Intentionally Seasonal -- Lately we’ve become more intentional about eating with the seasons. We think it’s because we recognize the sheer joy that comes from freshly picked vegetables and fruits shining up from a side dish.
Grow Your Own -- Whether it’s a back yard affair, a community garden, or produce from a Community Supported Agriculture farm, gardens are big.
A Toast to Roasted -- Roasted is the new grilled, the new fried, the “why didn’t we think of this before” preparation that adds a depth of flavor to side dishes.
You Say Potato -- In fact, say it over and over again, because potatoes are creeping back onto our plates. But, they are healthier and more interesting, and—if you’ve noticed—more likely to be sweet potatoes than anything else.
Rice is Nice -- The new whole grain rice blends are shaking up the side of the plate with fancy risottos and new strains. Black rice, red rice, all of a sudden, it seems, there is a plethora of new varieties.
The New American Regional -- It may be nostalgia, it may be wanderlust—whatever the reason, people love to know the food’s history. And side dishes are just full of great stories and regional influences.
Taking Root -- No longer relegated to cold-weather-only status, root veggies are now available year-round and appreciated for their hearty flavor, versatility--and, oh yeah, the price is right for these tough economic times.
Ethnic Side Lines -- Over the years we’ve embraced ethnic main dishes to the point of fully acclimating them into the American menu. Well, now we’re beginning to notice those things on the side.
The Incredible Shrinking Protein -- We’ve pushed protein to the side and elevated, well, the side. As that happens, the side dishes grow in variety and stature.
Color Is Hot -- These days it's all about purple cauliflower, purple potatoes, and corn. Consumers are learning that brightly colored fruits and vegetables are often the healthiest--loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients.
“Side dishes are really starting to get some attention, especially the consumer interest in sweet potatoes, and are growing in importance and prominence on today’s menus. As the industry leader across the category, we are excited to sponsor and provide recipes for the top ten side dish trend feature on The Food Channel,” said Carole McCarthy, director of marketing for McCain Foods.
For additional food news, trends, recipes, professional tips, and reviews visit www.foodchannel.com.