Ikea meatballs have truly come full circle: They went vegetarian in 2014, then vegan in 2015, and now they’re back to meat again, only it’s from … mealworms. Last year, the company swore it was getting serious about food after realizing that almost a third of its shoppers were visiting stores only to eat in the cafeteria, and even announced a “secret” R&D lab in Copenhagen known as Space10, which was working to develop a modern, sustainable menu. Well, Space10 has just posted a status update of sorts on Medium, and the Noma–meets–Silicon Valley dishes they’ve concocted are a far cry from Sjoräpport salmon fillets.
The post lists five traditional dishes “reimagined” for people to consume in a “not-too-distant” future. The so-called “Neatball” is Ikea’s tweak to its menu mainstay, and it comes in two types aimed at reducing Earth’s meat consumption: a mealworm version, and another that uses beets, carrots, and parsnips. To keep at least one aspect of the dish traditional, Space10 still serves the little orbs with mashed potatoes, gravy, and lingonberry sauce.
Next, there’s the “Dogless Hotdog,” kind of like a Chicago dog for vegans, cranked up to an 11. Instead of a frank, you get a glazed dried carrot, stem and all. Toppings include a beet-berry ketchup, cream made from mustard and turmeric, roasted onions, cucumbers, and an herb-salad mix. You’ll notice the bun is a strong shade of green: It’s made from spirulina — a blue-green microalgae that’s exceptionally nutrient-dense (it’s got more protein than an entire standard hot dog).
Up third, there’s the “Bug Burger,” which is pretty self-explanatory: A burger whose patty is four-fifths root vegetable, and one-fifth darkling-beetle larva. It comes topped with relish, that same beet-berry ketchup, a chive spread, and some greens.
The fourth dish is a salad that sounds like it might be from Sweetgreen (a mix of, say, sorrel, broccoli, and tarragon; or pea sprouts, radish, and thyme), except that everything was grown hydroponically in a glass box in Ikea’s basement. Each one gets a basil-tarragon-lemon-balm dressing, and to eliminate food waste, the croutons on top are made from leftover bread.
And for dessert, there’s finally something more exciting than Swedish apple cake, though you may balk at the texture: microgreen ice cream. To whip this up, they mix herbs from the underground garden (fennel, coriander, basil, or mint) into an agar-carob-starch base with some sugar, lemon juice, and apple, to yield a product apparently resembling this: