Summer picnics are made for pasta salads. Try a creative spin on them by changing up the expected presentation. Consider using large pasta shells stuffed with a mixture of seasoned summer vegetables, turkey and cheese, which can work as a light entrée, starter or side dish.
Consumers clamor for Swedish meatballs. Just ask IKEA, which recently released their recipe for the iconic dish in light of rave reviews from customers. To add a little comfort to your menu, you can make your own version as a shareable, crowd-pleasing addition to your appetizer or small plate selection.
Even before the lockdown, plant-based foods were in increasing demand among consumers. The National Restaurant Association included plant-based among their tops trends of the year. As we emerge from lockdown, consumer preferences for healthy, plant-forward options remain – and are worth serious consideration as operators try to manage price spikes on animal proteins ranging from beef to pork to chicken. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that in April, grocery prices were the highest they had been in 50 years, with the sharpest increases recorded for meat, poultry, fish and eggs. If you are given the choice between raising the menu price of a burger and removing that item from your menu until prices fall to more manageable levels, could you choose? Or might it be possible to offer a plant-forward option as a third alternative? If your guest base likes to do its part to protect the environment, promote the benefits of substituting a meal of animal protein with a plant-based option. The Environmental Working Group suggests integrating such protein alternatives as lentils, beans, chickpeas, tofu, nuts, peanut butter and brown rice into recipes to shrink environmental impact. Doing so can help you keep a lid on costs too.
Texture, crunch and color all elevate the experience of a dish. Add some hearty starch to the mix and you have a recipe for serious satisfaction. A nutrient-dense orzo and wild rice salad can be filled with colorful, fresh vegetables, topped with pomegranate seeds and mixed in a light dressing of olive oil and lemon juice. The wide range of textures and flavors make for a memorable salad and a colorful addition to a meal.
These times call for creativity across a restaurant’s operations. When it comes to your ingredients, do you have an item that is ripe for reinvention? Consider this one: soft pretzels. Not simply stars of any snack or appetizer menu, they can enhance your entrées as a recipe ingredient. Try a skillet strata combining soft, doughy pretzel pieces with egg, cheese, onion, bacon and spinach for serious comfort food.
Soup is an all-around winner: It provides comfort food for guests, travels and freezes well, and feeds a crowd. What’s more, it helps you make efficient use of a broad range of ingredients at a time when you are likely being extra mindful of waste and may be struggling to source key supplies. Soup also makes for a flavorful, filling meal.