Masthead

What to Eat Now!

2016 was a great year in food trends: Poké went mainstream, Nordic sandwiches became all the rage, and just about everything was served in some form of bowl. So what are the amazing, hearty, healthy, and delicious dishes that are going to dominate next year? We’ve got them all here. And we hope you’re very, very hungry.


By NILS BERNSTEIN
Photos by CHRISTOPHER TESTANI
5 min

IT WAS A CRAZY YEAR. And no, we’re not talking about politics. ¶ We’re talking about food. ¶ If you dined at any progressive foodie haven in the past 12 months, you likely faced countless warring trends: either small plates with small portions or huge plates with gargantuan shareable dishes, like whole suckling pigs or porterhouses for four. The ingredients may have been “hyperlocal,” foraged from the garden next to the parking lot, or sourced from far-flung, newly hot places like Israel, Peru, or the Philippines. Even water—the most basic of life’s essentials—changed. Forget flat or sparkling: Last year’s H20 came from coconut, cactus, maple, or birch trees. ¶ Regardless, 2016 still proved to be a banner year for healthy eating. It was the year we kicked up our oatmeal, grass-fed beef became the norm, low-alcohol cocktails shed any lameness, and lots and lots of whole grains were everywhere you looked. And as excited as we are to single out our favorite dishes of the year, we’re equally as psyched to introduce to you the new of foods that are going to make your taste buds explode in 2017. ¶ So, guys, put your feedbag on. Because it’s time to eat.

THE FAST-CASUAL LUNCH

2016

PUT IT IN A GRAIN BOWL

We like grains. We like bowls. We like piling things on grains in bowls. But we went a little overboard in 2016, when the grain bowl became ubiquitous and topped so haphazardly it was like going to Pinkberry after a few drinks. Our 2017 grain bowl message: Keep it simple.

2017

PUT IT ON A STICK

This isn’t exactly a tough sell. Many of our favorite foods are on a stick: kebabs, Thai satay, yakitori, corn dogs, popsicles, roasted marshmallows. So the fact that chefs are putting everything from French toast to chicken and waffles on sticks is fantastic news. Pro tip: If you’re doing beef skewers, soak them in soy sauce for an hour before grilling. It’s a great marinade, and it will also prevent wooden skewers from catching fire on the grill.

SEAFOOD DISH

2016

POKÉ

We can’t vouch for all Hawaiian food (no Spam, thanks), but poké (pronounced POH-kay, which means “to section, slice, or cut”)—raw fish (usually tuna) tossed with Asian flavors—is simple, hearty, and incredibly delicious. Just combine cubes of raw, best-quality tuna with sweet onion, scallions, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, red-pepper flakes, and good salt. Done.

2017

KINILAW

Kinilaw is the seviche of the Philippines, except made with everything from oysters to goat meat. It’s an unexpected way to prepare your favorite protein with minimal fuss: Raw fish or meat is doused with cane or coconut vinegar, mixed with onion or shallots, ginger, chili peppers, various fruits and/or vegetables, and maybe coconut milk, and left just 15 minutes or so.

SANDWICH

2016

LETTUCE WRAP

In 2016, car everything they used to wrap in a bun or tortilla, in lettuce leaves. It’s a nice idea—some of us think the bland bun detracts from the more flavorful meat and fillings anyway—but it kind of negates the point if you just end up eating more fries.

2017

VADA PAV

This Indian street snack is a spiced potato fritter on a bun. Think veggie burger, but fresh and vibrant, not dull and pasty. Says chef Vijay Sadhu of Dallas’ Cook Hall, “We called them Desi Burgers and would buy them from street vendors. They’re great with mint chutney.” To further lighten it up, use thin slices of whole-grain bread…or hey, wrap it in a lettuce leaf!

Changing of the Guard

2016 was a breakout year for all your favorite add-ons, such as cauliflower, eggplant, and the unfortunately named “pulses.” What’s up next?

2016

PROTEIN SUBSTITUTE

Eggplant
You rarely hear “eggplant” without the adjective “meaty.” It’s best in thick grilled slabs in an Asian marinade.

OBSCURE CUT OF MEAT

Pork Belly
We’ll always love it because it gives us bacon. But in the wrong hands, pork belly is a greasy diet buster.

VERSATILE VEGETABLE

Cauliflower
Cut into thick “steaks,” or mince into “rice” (and everything in between).

GRILL SIDE

Quinoa Salad
Quinoa is a terrific grain, but in 2016 quinoa salads started feeling like the generic pasta salads of picnics past.

HEALTHY TREND WITH AN UNFORTUNATE NAME

Pulses
Including beans, peas, and lentils. So let’s call ’em beans, peas, and lentils!

TRENDY FRUIT

Pomegranate
They’re nutrient powerhouses, but they can be hard to find year-round, and the seeds are a hassle to remove.

“SAVE THE EARTH” FOOD

Scraps
Kitchen refuse, like bread from juicemachine pulp, casseroles of kale ribs, and frying fish bones as a snack.

DRINK

Cider
2016 was great for both hard and non-alcoholic apple drinks. We’re game to retire the former.

2017

PROTEIN SUBSTITUTE

Jackfruit
The fresh fruit is intimidating, so buy it frozen or canned in brine (not syrup) and sauté it a bit before using.

OBSCURE CUT OF MEAT

Budget Beef
Teres major, bavette, and coulotte are popping up on lots of menus. They’re lean, with great texture and flavor.

VERSATILE VEGETABLE

Cucumber
Salt before cooking to infuse flavor and remove some of the moisture.

GRILL SIDE

Mexican Corn
Served with a little mayo, cheese, lime, and chili, it’s our favorite Mexican snack this side of the border.

HEALTHY TREND WITH AN UNFORTUNATE NAME

Blue-Green Algae
Doesn’t “spirulina” sound better? We sure think so.

TRENDY FRUIT

Yuzu
This Japanese citrus has an aromatic rind and a tangy juice that calls to mind lemon or grapefruit.

“SAVE THE EARTH” FOOD

Ugly Produce
Those battle-scarred fruits and vegetables no wants to buy so they end up in the garbage. What a waste!

DRINK

“Golden Lattes”
A chai-like combo of fresh or dried turmeric and nut-based milk, they’re both nutritious and satisfying.

BREAKFAST

AVOCADO TOAST

We love mashed avocado on toast as much as the next guy, but its overwhelming ubiquity, especially on brunch menus (and on Instagram, where avo-toast documentation has become a competitive sport on Instagram), makes us wish people would remember the other tempting forms that open-faced sandwiches can take (like Danish smørrebrød, which is starting to make waves in the U.S.). But let’s be clear: This isn’t to say we won’t keep piling smashed ripe avocados on bread.

JIANBING

Hailing from China, jianbing—a huge crepe with egg cooked onto it, folded and stuffed with herbs, vegetables, pickles, and sauces—is starting to find its way to street corners around the U.S. “Jianbing is one of the most perfect Asian sandwiches, and it’s good any time of day,” says Gregory Gourdet of Departure Restaurants in Portland, OR; and Denver. “When you make it yourself, have fun with fillings—pork, duck, eggs—and garnish with hoisin and chili sauces.”

GUY SALAD

2016

SALAD IN A JAR

We’re all for anything that gets guys to eat more salads. Layering ingredients in a jar so lunch involves nothing more than a quick shake is a brilliant idea that was everywhere in 2016 (including stores hawking “salad jars”). Just put the dressing and other “wet” ingredients at the bottom, then hearty ingredients like broccoli, carrots, and beans as Layer 2, so everything above it doesn’t get soggy.

2017

QUICK KIMCHIS

Most of us know kimchi as a spicy, stinky fermented cabbage. But this Korean condiment comes in many shapes and forms, including noncabbage, nonfermented versions that are closer to salads, made with a range of herbs, vegetables, and even fruits. These are actually the most traditional kimchis eaten in Korea in the spring, and stateside chefs are catching on. Chef Todd Kelly serves several quick kimchis at Cincinnati’s Orchids at Palm Court. “I love their adaptability. You can use almost any healthy ingredients and combine them to accommodate any dish, or sandwich—or just eat it on their own.”

DESSERT

2016

SAVORY WITH SWEET

Salt on chocolate: Delici work (parsnip ice cream?), but incorporating savory ingredients like carrots, beets, and squash into desserts can have tasty—and nutritious—results. Salt can actually accentuate sweetness (try a tiny bit on a grapefruit), and balancing tart, spicy, and savory elements is key to a complex dessert and was a big success among chefs in 2016.

2017

PAVLOVA

This fruit-topped meringue dessert is overdue for its major moment. Australian chef Guy Turland of Bondi Harvest says: “Pav, as we call it, is supersimple to make, versatile, and packed with flavor. It’s textural, with crispy meringue on the outside that’s light and fluffy yet a little sticky in the center, all topped off with some seasonal fruit and yogurt. It’s a healthier option, too: The main ingredient being egg whites makes it high in protein, low in fat, and gluten-free.

PASTA

2016

ANCIENT GRAIN PASTAS

So-called “ancient grains” like einkorn, Kamut, and farro—so called for being relatively unchanged from their ancient form, unlike most commercial wheat— have a permanent place on our tables, along with quinoa, barley, buckwheat, and other nutritious whole grains. Pasta from these grains can be fantastic, and the quality of the store-bought versions has gotten so good, there’s no reason not to buy whole-grain pasta.

2017

VEGETABLE PASTAS

You may have heard of “spiralizing” or “ribboning”— veggies like beets, carrots, zucchini, and broccoli cut or shaved into pastalike strands. (You might also have heard of “zoodles,” i.e., zucchini noodles, but let’s pretend you haven’t.) These can evoke a comforting pasta vibe with the right sauce (pro tip: Use a ton of parmesan cheese), and spaghetti squash even has a pasta texture built right in—it separates with a fork into spaghetti-like strands when cooked. Our favorite version: The roasted spaghetti squash with apples, pumpkin seeds, and raclette cheese at Chicago’s GreenRiver.


Food Styling by Michelle Gatton/Stockland Martel; Prop Styling by Carla Gonzalez-Hart