LONDON — Sometimes when my test kitchen crew and I make a new dish, we do it to fit into a bigger story: the story of a season or of a day, about the person who inspired the dish, or a particular ingredient.
Other times it’s the other way around: the story follows the recipe. I may just feel like making and eating something, most likely from what’s in my fridge and cupboards, and then, once it’s made and eaten (and modified and properly tested), think of something to say about all of this. say.
This dish of grilled portobello mushrooms with chili sauce definitely falls into the second camp. Its main goal was to introduce a relatively easy yet flavorful bell pepper and chili sauce that can be made in bulk and used for pasta, spread as a pizza crust, drizzled over an open cheese sandwich, or served alongside some eggs. served. In this case it was tossed on a platter with some sour cream with lime and then garnished with grilled mushrooms and onions. With this final grilling phase taking less than 15 minutes, it felt like an almost instant meal.
But what was “just” a versatile, relatively simple dish — a quick path to big and satisfying vegan flavors — ended up accidentally matching the food trends I read about over the next year. This delicious, timeless vegetarian meal turned out to be all of 2022. The synchronicity!
Mushrooms — firm, absorbent, “meaty” mushrooms — are expected to be a key ingredient by 2022. And it makes sense: They fit well into a plant-based diet, where so many will continue to turn in response to the climate crisis, and they’re packed with umami , the tantalizing taste also known as the fifth taste, which we all want more of.
It was interesting to see what the other trends predicted were: the rise of cooking from the beginning; the expected popularity of hibiscus, yuzu and sea vegetables; edible utensils to combat single-use containers — and how so many of them are coming in response to the past two years. But it was also nice to see how cooking that always felt so good to me – enhancing the flavor of vegetables and then centering them on the plate – made the dish so appropriate for this moment.
I’m not saying this for my own bells and whistles, or to suggest that I can read tea leaves. But I say this rather to celebrate what so many have believed about vegetables for so long: that there is nothing more exciting, delicious, versatile, practical and satisfying in the kitchen.
Along with the shift to vegetables come words like reductarism, for example (eating less meat without going completely vegan) and climatarism (the desire to reduce one’s carbon footprint); meat-free offerings on fast food menus; and the growing popularity of ingredients such as umami powder.
For anything new, though, it brings us all back to veggies. This recipe calls for mushrooms, but it could also have been sweet potatoes or eggplant (wedges of either work really well in place of the mushrooms in this dish). Their flavor is then simply enhanced with olive oil, herbs and spices, and extracted by heat. In short, grilling, roasting and charring vegetables are cooking methods that are as old as time, yet as current as can be.
Recipe: Grilled Portobello’s With Chili Sauce, Sour Cream And Corn Nuts