News From the Fancy Food Show & Tahini Noodles Recipe

Tahini Noodles with Green Beans and CarrotsPlant Food
In what has become an annual tradition, I spent my Martin Luther King holiday walking the aisles at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco looking for and tasting the latest and greatest that the culinary world has to offer. As per usual there was plenty of gorgeous chocolate and cheese from around the world—including a guacamole cheese that was divine despite being a dark green not usually associated with cheese in a positive way.

There were teas, there were coffees and there was an extraordinary number of waffles, both of the regular and of the Stroop variety. I like waffles as much as the next gal. But, do we really need that many? And there was bottled pickle juice…because, of course, there would be bottled pickle juice. (I brought one home for my kids to try. My pickle loving son tried it and said it was too intense yet he keeps going back for another sip. Kind of like a bad accident. You can’t help but look.)

There was no missing the one big take away from this show: The future of food is plant-based.

From beverages to snacks, to frozen foods, each and every grocery category had multiple vendors showing their plant-based products. There were plant-based frozen desserts being offered down every aisle either by the pint or as bars. Plant-based meat alternatives have grown way beyond the Impossible Burger. The snack category was huge including puffs made out of avocado that were a big hit at my home, as were the butternut squash pretzels. While I expected to see more plant-based noodles than I did, they were still well represented as were the Asian cuisines they support.

Staunch carnivores should not fret too much, though, as there were still plenty of offerings for them. Duck Sausage anyone? Small family-owned ranches held their own amongst the plant-based surge by offering natural, humanely-raised alternatives to beef like venison, bison, elk, and even wild boar. And while the jerky revolution has died down some, there were still plenty of meat and salami sticks to be sampled.

While plant-based foods comprised a large percentage of the products being shown this year, it was very obvious that we’re just scratching the surface when it comes to plant-based innovation. This is not a food trend that will just fizzle out. The possibilities are endless and the masterminds are just getting started…

Tahini Noodles with Green Beans and Carrots 
Adapted from Food 52
Yields 4 to 6 servings

For the sauce
1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup tahini
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Sriracha
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the noodles
1 pound dried udon noodles (we like Koyo organic)
2 carrots, peeled and grated
2 cups fresh green beans, blanched in salted water, chopped
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

For the topping
Japanese togarashi spice blend* (see below)

Blanch the string beans
Fill a large bowl with ice water.

Boil a large pot of salted water and blanch the string beans for two minutes. Remove the beans with a slotted spoon directly into the ice water. Reserve the water for the pasta.

Cook the pasta
Follow the directions on the pasta package and cook the pasta in it until desired doneness. Drain when done.

Make the sauce
While the pasta cooks, combine the ingredients for the sauce in a blender or food processor and pulse until creamy.

Prep the veggies
Peel the carrots and grate them using the fine side of the grater.

Chop the string beans into 1-inch segments.

Finish the dish
Add the dressing to the warm, drained pasta, along with the carrots, onion, and green beans. Top with togarashi pepper and sesame seeds.

Serve while warm

*Japanese Togarashi Spice Blend
Togarashi is a small, hot, red Japanese chili available both fresh and dried, but its most popular use is as part of a traditional spice mix that commonly comprises seaweed, orange zest, ginger, sesame seeds, and chili powder. It is often used as a finishing spice and is delicious on many dishes.

Japanese Togarashi Spice Blend Recipe
Yields about a quarter cup

1/2 sheet sushi nori, (dried seaweed)
1 tablespoon dried orange peel (from the spice aisle)
4 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
1 teaspoon ground ginger

Process the nori in mini food processor or coffee mill until fine flakes form. Mix the nori and the remaining spices until they are well blended. Store in a tightly covered jar in a cool, dry place.

Note: If you don’t have all the ingredients on hand, you can make a quick substitute by mixing together 3 teaspoons of chili flakes (we recommend Korean gochugaru), 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds, and 1 teaspoon of nori seaweed flakes.

Alternately, you could substitute the togarashi blend with dukkah spice mix from Egypt which we carry in the store.

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