Food Trend Spotlight: Middle Eastern Mash-Up March 2020As different global cuisines begin to enter the mainstream we see a tendency to move away from strict authenticity and instead incorporate familiar ingredients or applications to promote trial and wider consumer acceptance. This fusion of the expected and adventurous lends to mash-ups like we are seeing with Middle Eastern cuisine across North America.Middle Eastern cuisine is largely plant-forward by nature and is characterized by dishes like flatbreads and pita, hummus, kebab, and falafel, as well as herbs and spices like harissa, cardamom, za’atar, cumin, nutmeg, mint, and parsley. We look to countries like Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Turkey, and others to see what we can learn and apply to mash-ups across the menu to introduce more consumers to exciting and flavorful Middle Eastern cuisine.Culinary Appeal & Operational PerksMiddle Eastern cuisine offers big flavor but relies on relatively simple and traditional cooking techniques including grilling, roasting, and pickling. Due to historical influence of ancient empires in this region, a lot of cooking techniques and spices are shared between countries in this region. This makes sourcing ingredients easier as there is plenty of cross-utilization opportunities between dishes. Seasonal ingredients and a lack of dependency on animal protein also allow this cuisine to be flexible to and cost-efficient.Innovation Opportunities Plenty of traditional Middle Eastern staples are perfect for mash-ups. Take flatbread as an example, this serves as a vessel for innovative twists on basic spreads and toppings – switch up these two elements to incorporate bright colours, different textures, and seasonal ingredients. Or use the highly popular power bowl concept as a platform to inspire with Middle Eastern elements and flavors – experiment with marinated and skewered meats as a bowl garnish, or brighten up your lentil base with fresh herbs and zippy spices.Getting You StartedTo get you started, Lentils.org has developed a number of Middle Eastern inspired recipes with a mix of traditional takes and influenced mash-ups:Lebanese Lentil KibbehLentil Lahmacun (Turkish Pizza)Lentil SamosaLentil Musakhan (Palestinian Flatbread)Lentil Falafel BowlEgyptian Koshari BowlSpiced Middle Eastern Lentil MedallionsLamb, Lentil & Arugula PiadiniLentil Tabbouleh Salad BowlBraised Lebanese Lentil Freekeh BowlTurkish Lentil Kofte Lettuce WrapsRainbow Lentil FlatbreadTurkish EggsSkewered Beef & Lentil Rice BowlLet us know how you are innovating around Middle Eastern cuisines on your menus – email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your ideas!