Food Trend Spotlight: European 2.0 

January 2024 

European cuisines are experiencing a resurgence after a period of stagnation — Greek, French, Mediterranean, Spanish, Italian, and other classic cuisines are back and bolder than ever. Datassential reports that as American consumers visit Italy, France, Spain, and other European countries on post-COVID vacations, we can expect them to return with a hunger for the fresh ingredients and dishes they discovered in those locations overseas. [1] Corporate Chef James Bickmore-Hutt says that this European cuisine trend cycle encourages culinary creativity: “We are seeing regionalized, beautiful street food from France, Spain, and the Mediterranean. We are finding more fun and inventive snacks. An emerging European cuisine is that of Cyprus, which shines a spotlight on bright, fresh Mediterranean flavors. All of these are great for showcasing versatile lentils that can carry fresh and regional flavors while adding plant-forward protein to any dish.” 

Follow us on a European tour through a handful of cuisines that traditionally feature lentils.  


In a 2023 survey, 42% of consumers said they love or like French cuisine. [1] With a tender al dente texture when cooked whole, lentils traditionally appear in French dishes like ragouts, braised dishes, cassoulets, salads, and soups. Check out our kitchen cheat sheet to learn how to cook lentils to tender perfection using volume foodservice kitchen equipment. 

Lentils can even add a bit of “stealth nutrition” to a traditionally indulgent dish like au gratin potatoes — using protein-rich lentils in the potato topping can provide nutrients with little added effort.  


Greek cuisine is home to lentils in traditional dishes like soups, salads, and side dishes. Lentils are a great option for plant-based dishes as a protein-rich ingredient, with 12 grams of protein per ½-cup serving. They also hold well once they’re prepared, whether held hot in a soup or chilled for use in composed salads. 


There may be no cuisine as globally adored as Italian food, and lentils are a flavor sponge for enticing, savory ingredients. Neutral on their own, lentils excel at soaking up the familiar flavors of aromatic vegetables, acidic ingredients like red wine and tomatoes, and fresh herbs and spices. In Italian cuisine, lentils bring plant-based protein to comforting, savory dishes like stews, salads and side dishes, soup, braised dishes and pastas. As Datassential points out, unique pasta varieties like Creste di Gallo are expected to be featured across menus this year. [1] 


Lentils shine in traditional Spanish dishes like soups, lentil stew with chorizo (lentejas con chorizo), and braised dishes. High in protein and fiber, lentils can complement seafood and meat mains, be blended with ground meat in burgers and meatballs, or replace animal-based proteins entirely while satisfying consumer desire for food that fuels and provides satiety. 

Lentils are well-known and embraced in Mediterranean cuisine, which offers a broad flavor palette and the health halo of fresh ingredients native to many European cuisines, including Greek, Italian, and Spanish. Consider using protein-rich lentils as a fresh, affordable base for familiar foods like falafel and hummus.  

[1] Datassential 2024 Food Bytes Report