Thinking about what you can cook for dinner in New Jersey would probably feel like you’re asked to pick one meal after reading over menu cards from different parts of the world. Needless to say, the Garden State of Jersey has a long immigrant history and has always had its doors wide open to whole-heartedly embrace every type of cuisine. Today, the sugar, spice and everything nice of different cuisines make up the thriving culture of food in Jersey. Which is why the cuisine in New Jersey in its essence is a ‘bona fide melting pot’. If you’re feeling like Chinese, Italian, Lebanese, Indian or even Korean, the state has got dishes that you can chow down on. In most parts of the country, cuisines change from coast to coast. However in New Jersey, it’s more like from street to street.
So what’s the story heard from plates of food in New Jersey?
Jersey Has The Local, Global And The Glocal
New Jersey cuisine is a little of everything. If you had to place darts on a map for the types of food found in New Jersey, you’d have darts on India, China, Cuba, Ireland, Jordan, Lebanon, Peru, Russia, Poland, Italy and well the list can seem never ending because most of the food in Jersey is a product of globalization.
Jersey Shore Never Bores
Another thing that makes the cuisine even more interesting is Jersey’s close proximity to the coast. You’ve probably heard of Jersey Shore – which brings the juicy on-screen drama while the actual shores bring you all the juicy seafood cuisine. Mussels (also known as moules by locals), shrimps, scallops, oysters, lobster, spider crabs are few of the seafood that get casted in a lot of Jersey cuisine.
Jersey’s Most Pampered Ingredients
The state is also home to fresh foods like cranberries, blueberries, corn, tomatoes, and peaches. Found in the interior of the state, these fresh produce sure are darlings Jersey. Considering how the oh so loved Tomato delectably pairs itself with practically every dish here, it should come as no surprise that Tomato is officially the state vegetable. It’s really more of a fruit in disguise, but does it really matter when taste-buds are pampered so well?
Looking to get a taste of the New Jersey tomato? Visit the open air farmer’s markets to get yourself these tangy treats! Then again, you could always just request them from your neighbors garden too. If you’re a fan of seafood and the tomato combination, there’s no better place to try it than Jersey. Just the thought of prawn and tomato Courgetti spaghetti or mussels in spicy tomato sauce gets people drooling.
Jersey Is The Diner Capital
Diners in Jersey are like a badge of honor for residents here. With roughly over 525 diners, most in the country, the bragging rights for having the best of Diners belongs to New Jersey. Movies like Reservoir Dogs, Heat, Pulp fiction and Back to the Future have some of the best diner scenes and chances are, you’re transported to the atmosphere or a memory of a diner in Jersey when you re watch these classics! A legit diner would always be ready to serve disco fries, pork roll, egg, and cheese sandwiches, and is open 24/7. So, if you want to have dinner plans outside you know the diner would be there for you at any hour.
And That’s The Story
In essence, having Jersey food on your plate is like having a visa to multiple countries across the globe. But we’ve only peeled the first layer of Jersey food to bring you a picture of the cuisine. The state is vast with completely diverse cuisines in the North, South and Central and there’s no one type of cuisine even next door neighbors would follow.
Now that we’ve covered the roots of the story of food in Jersey, let’s prime you with few of the dishes you can prepare at home to put on a dinner table in New Jersey.
1. Tomato Pie
What if we told you that this is a dish that could replace your love for pizza? Well, tomato pie definitely has the potential and it’s the east coast’s innovative version of a cheese pizza. The dish is also popularly known as the ‘New Jersey Pizza’. It may feel like you’re creating a fusion of the Neapolitan and New York style pizzas. To prepare it, you’d need to take the Italian approach for sauces. The beauty of this pie lies in the crust and the key to nailing this dish is the tomato sauce. First thing is placing the sauce and then the cheese, which is why it’s called the reverse pizza style. This way, the tomato pie stays put and you’re able to relish the meal without making a mess.
The classic Sloppy Joe is a family favorite because it can come together in one skillet and wouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes to nail the dish at home. You can also create a triple decker version of the sandwich in case you’re on the lookout for something heavier for dinner. Ground Beef, tomato sauce, onions and seasonings are the star ingredients of your Sloppy Joe burger.
But in some parts of Jersey, you would also find a Sloppy Joe version that has coleslaw, russian salad dressing and two layers of meat (such as slices of turkey, ham, beef tongue). It is considered that the northern part of Jersey serves a sloppy joe like a deli sandwich. New Jersey does deserve some brownie points for inspiring people to transform sandwiches into irresistible dinner meals.
3. Red Potato Salad Dijon
Let’s be honest here. There are only two types of people in the world – those who love taters and those who can’t be trusted. If you’re a tater lover, you’ll absolutely relish the quick and convenient red potato salad with Dijon dressing. Mustard is the flavor that overpowers the salad and once you dig into the bowl of red potatoes, you’ll be left yearning for more. For days when you feel like you need a bowl to snack on while completing a Netflix series online, you can easily sit with this dish and get your dinner done. A red potato salad is also great for when you have guests over and you all need a side snack to munch on. Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, white vinegar, olive oil and red potatoes are the only ingredients needed to conjure this dish together. You can add your own twist to the dish by adding some Ham, cherry tomatoes, and parsley as well.
4. Corn Risotto
This is yet another dish that manages to showcase the fresh ingredients found in New Jersey. Corn Risotto is the perfect dish to resort to when you need some warm comfort food. The dish is rich in texture, creamy and you’ll have moments when you bite into a bunch of soft corn kernels. Well, popcorn doesn’t pass for dinner but if you’re still feeling like having some corn, this is the best dish to try especially when it’s corn season in Jersey. The classic corn chowder, corn salad with avocado and tomatoes, cheesy jersey corn with tomato confit are few other dishes you can whip up for dinner if you ended bringing more corn from the farmer’s market than you needed (we know that impulsive corn shopping in the summer is a thing).
5.Cajun Shrimp And Rice
Like we mentioned earlier, there’s loads of spice being added to Jersey dishes because of so many ethnicities bringing their own spices to the table. If you’ve developed a craving for spicy food, you can surely give Cajun Shrimp rice a shot for dinner. This is a one-skillet dish that won’t eat your time and is perfect for a weekday dinner meal. With the added juicy shrimp, this meal of flavors makes cooking on weekdays stress free and has everyone calling you Martha Stewart for the day.
To Wrap It Up
Whether you’re planning a meal for yourself, family or friends, New Jersey will make sure that everyone’s unique palate is pampered well enough. Now that you know a thing or two about New Jersey cuisine, you should be able to turn your dinner table into a fancy Diner.
Interesting: What would you Find at a Dinner Table in California