Dez chef Eden Grinshpan wants you to eat the rainbow
I recently realized that most of my favorite brunch foods are beige. Pancakes, hummus and pita, baked oatmeal, scones—what gives? Sure, there may be a fruit salad or vegetable plate, but when the rest of the table is a sea of brown and off-white, I don’t know how appetizing it looks. While I’m not necessarily eating for the Instagram, I do find something invigorating about brightly-colored foods.
“People eat with their eyes first,” Eden Grinshpan, Chef and Co-Founder of Dez, a fast-casual Middle Eastern restaurant in Manhattan, told me in an email. “Adding color just makes things pop.”
We’re not talking about slicing fruit over pancakes or tossing a radish rose onto a bowl of hummus—Grinshpan says that the best way to incorporate color into brunch dishes is to literally blend them in. This advice is put into practice the hummus served at Dez, which is blended with cooked beets to dye the dish a gorgeous shade of pink.
To tint oatmeal, rice, and other white grains a gorgeous orangey-gold (as Grinshpan does at Dez), bloom a few threads of saffron in a bit of water, and pour that into the grains before cooking them as you would normally.
If you’re at a loss, embrace the powder of green. Grinshpan does this with zhoug, a garlicky condiment made with jalapenos and fresh herbs. The bright-green sauce shows up all over the menu at Dez, adding just as much eye candy as it adds a spicy kick. Another great way to drizzle liquid green is to blend fresh herbs with tahini and a bit of water until smooth and pastel emerald.
Powerful color can also be just as easily achieved via garnishes. Slice open a seven-minute egg to reveal an oozing golden yolk, or thinly slice a watermelon radish (they’re basically pink and green vegetable spin art) and a few rainbow carrots (hello purple, reddish-orange, and yellow). In a pinch, a shower of fresh herbs and dusting of a vibrant seasoning like turmeric or paprika will do the trick. For sweets, add a slick of jam or a scoop of macerated berries to a bowl of yogurt or pile of pancakes. Pistachios and pomegranate seeds also pack a wallop, color-wise.
While some of these tricks vastly improve the flavor of a dish, for the most part, they’re no more than bright additions for your eyes to devour. As Grinshpan said, “the more color, the more life your plate has.”