More broccoli, but this time anything but a crust. Romanesco, a broccoli variation, looks like something out of “Star Wars” — luminous yellow-green in color and covered in protuberances that suggest bushy little Christmas trees grown in a distant galaxy. It tastes sort of like regular broccoli but is sweeter and milder. It’s great steamed whole and dusted with parmigiano.
This spicy, spreadable pork sausage originating in the southern Italian region of Calabria, has been around for a few years in this country but deserves to be more widely known. Chefs use it in various ways, but it’s also very good at home just spread on toasted country bread, or on pizza, or slathered inside a quesadilla for a multi-cultural treat.
13. Dry-cured lamb
Ham is traditionally made from pork, but in Colonial times, lamb was cured in a similar fashion. At least one smokehouse, Edwards in Virginia, is bringing back that early American specialty. Served thinly sliced and at room temperature like prosciutto, this dry-cured lamb is full of flavor, nicely smoky, and leaner than most ham.
In the pure sense, za’atar, which originates in the Middle East, refers to a family of herbs related to oregano. The za’atar that’s beginning to be used by chefs in various ways in the U.S. — and that makes a great seasoning at home for salads, soups, pasta, and other dishes — is usually a mixture of herbs and spices, including oregano, sumac, thyme, and ground sesame seeds. It gives an elusively exotic flavor to whatever it goes on or into.
Even more exotic than za’atar, berbere is a complex spice blend from Ethiopia and Eritrea. It typically includes both familiar ingredients like dried chiles, garlic, and ginger, and some that are little-known here, including nigella, rue, fenugreek, and a ginger relative called korarima or Ethiopian cardamom. Added to food either dry or in paste form, it adds gentle heat and a distinctive flavor not only to Ethiopian dishes but to soups, roasted vegetables, burgers, roast chicken, and more.
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