ST. HELENA, Calif. — As the world flavors juggernaut continues to grow in power in the U.S., consumers crave new flavors that also address some of their other desires, including more nutritious cuisine.

Mediterranean-inspired cuisine answers the call, chefs said at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone’s annual Flavor, Quality and American Menus conference Sept. 8-11.

“The Mediterranean offers a lot of types of insight for the food people are interested in today,” said Bill Briwa, a chef instructor at the culinary institute. “Every time a customer’s looking for something, there’s the food standing there waiting to please.”

Joyce Goldstein, chef and author, refers to romesco as the ketchup of Spain. The sweet red pepper-based sauce can be used with more dishes than is often is in the U.S. by being incorporated into sauces, vinaigrettes and even mayonnaise.

Herbs are very important in Mediterranean cooking. Briwa referred to a tabbouleh salad he demonstrated at the event as a parsley salad, as fresh parsley was actually the first ingredient. The salad also had cucumbers, fresh mint, scallions, garlic, fresh lemon juice and zest and almonds.

“In a season with really great tomatoes you can add those too,” Goldstein added.

People are more and more comfortable with Mediterranean cuisine, even if they don’t know all the distinctions of the countries, Goldstein said.

“But in the Bay Area, for example, because it’s such a sophisticated city, people are actually looking into the different regions of the countries,” she said.

Attendees also heard about trends in Asian cuisine that go beyond the typical Chinese or Indian food the U.S. has been craving more of for a while.

Mai Pham, cookbook author, chef and owner of Lemon Grass Restaurant and Lemon Grass Asian Grill and Noodle Bar in Sacramento, is an expert on Taiwan-inspired cooking. She used Asian basil as part of a table salad that also incorporated leaf lettuce, cucumber and bean sprouts served alongside crispy spring rolls during a culinary demonstration at the conference.

She also made a citrus salad with pummelo, grapefruit and orange segments, carrot and cucumber strips, Asian basil leaves, cilantro, Thai bird chile and roasted peanuts with a Vietnamese dipping sauce.

“This salad is all about the pummelo,” Pham said. “When you do a citrus salad you don’t even need a dressing. When you bite into the pummelo it just bursts in your mouth and you have instant dressing.

For other types of fruit salad, for example mango salads, Pham said she would use more dressing. The use of fruit in savory salads or in savory dishes in general is something U.S. consumers aren’t as accustomed to.

“It’s very beautiful, very delicious, and very inexpensive,” Pham said. “In Vietnam we whack watermelon into large pieces and serve it at the table as a side dish. It’s something you eat with a big bowl of rice and some pork.”

Pham said she longs for a pummelo that resembles the type that is popular in Southeast Asia. She is, however, increasingly able to find ingredients that remind her of home.

“It used to be hard to ever find Asian basil in this part of the country,” Pham said. “Not anymore.”

When it comes to citrus, blood oranges and oro blancos seem to be leading in popularity growth, said Ashley Martorana, director of marketing for Paramount Citrus, a sponsor of the conference.