The Delicious USA festival, taking place from July 16–August 16, features some 24 restaurants that showcase the versatility and wholesomeness of food from the United States. While the full list of restaurants and their dishes will be announced in early July, we want to give you a preview of some hero products that chefs have chosen to highlight in their Delicious USA dishes. Hopefully this will whet your appetite and feed you with knowledge to pose as an expert when you enjoy the Delicious USA dishes with your friends.
Delicious USA Ingredient Preview Series: Nuts and dried fruits
The United States produces an abundance of tree nuts and fruits, with California being the country’s leading producer of these nutritious and delicious goodies. No doubt tree nuts and dried fruits are healthy snacks and are great for baking and desserts, but they are also versatile ingredients that light up savory dishes with the excitement of their unique taste profiles and exceptional compatibility. Some of the Delicious USA dishes demonstrate how tree nuts and dried fruits take flavors to the next level. Almonds, pistachios, raisins and figs are some of the wonderful nuts and fruits you will find on Delicious USA menus.
Grown in California’s ideal Mediterranean climate, the annual almond life cycle has many stages, with an abundance of natural beauty. Almond farming is a long-term commitment; orchards generally produce for 25 years, yielding their first crop three years after planting, bringing this flavorful and protein-packed addition to pantries across the USA. Whole natural almonds are delicious, but their versatility really shines through across the many different almond forms. Thanks to almonds’ wide variety of products and subtle, buttery taste, they can enhance any dish without overpowering it. Whole, sliced, diced, slivered, chopped, blanched – or as almond oil, almond butter, almond milk or almond flour – almonds add value in just about any application.
The pistachio tree Pistacia vera originated in western Asia and Asia Minor, made its way into Mediterranean Europe and now thrives in the dry climates of the American West. Advanced production technologies, efficient harvesting and sophisticated growing techniques now make the United States a leader in global commercial almond production. Nature decides when it’s time to harvest pistachios, when the fruit is mature and the shell has split. It’s not surprising that pistachios are packed with nutrients and have been considered beneficial to health for centuries by societies all over the world. Not only are pistachios healthy to eat, they are also popular among chefs in crafting fashion-forward styles for sweet and savory culinary delights.
Dried in the warm California sunshine, California raisins come by their sweetness naturally and have no added sugar. This tiny fruit has many benefits that help to maintain a healthy lifestyle. California raisins are found in many food-service kitchens, and many chefs have discovered that California raisins can help to achieve a spectrum of subtle and balanced flavors, from the deep and earthy to the highly aromatic. This ingredient has a lot of power to enhance existing dishes without adding another item to the inventory and without increasing costs. California raisins are the most economical, all-natural dried fruit available.
California has the perfect climate for growing figs. Farmers are passionate and take the utmost care in growing and harvesting this sustainable and delicious fruit. Over 100 producers, marketers, farm managers and processors of California figs farm 9,300 acres, mostly in and around the cities of Madera, Fresno and Merced. These areas are rich with full sunlight, warm temperatures and well-draining soil – everything figs need to thrive – producing the sweetest, plumpest fruit imaginable. Dried California figs are used in many savory dishes because they work well with spices and pair perfectly with meat prepared in various ways.
Information sources: Almond Board of California, American Pistachio Growers, Raisin Administrative Committee
and California Fig Advisory Board
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