Summer is a great time to pack your menu with the vegetable-dense dishes people crave in the heat. As you build everything ranging from salads to stir-fries to bowls, incorporate a mix of textures to ramp up the satisfaction of a dish and make it more memorable than something a guest might prepare at home. Think crisp noodles and cabbage, crunchy nuts and seeds, delicate scallions and tomatoes, and soft bites of chicken or tofu.
Chicken is always popular, but chicken consumption has really taken off during the pandemic. It ticks a lot of boxes for consumers: It’s functional, nourishing, nostalgic and customizable in so many ways. It’s a workhorse for restaurants too, since it can be prepared in so many ways and easily elevates dishes that have a broad range of international flavors. Guests are eager to have restaurant experiences right now. How can you take the existing chicken on your menu and offer something a little bit different from what a guest might prepare at home?
Consumers are still crazy about bowls, and for good reason: They often pack a lot of nutrients into one satisfying, colorful, easy-to-eat, easy-to-transport dish. They also present restaurant operators with exciting possibilities for every daypart, all while boosting a kitchen’s efficiency with a collection of ingredients that can generate seemingly endless combinations. Try offering a traditional savory bowl with grains, greens and textural elements like nuts or seeds, plus extra elements like feta, halloumi, herbs or dipping sauces. Or, invent your own version with a handful of your most popular ingredients.
Summer is prime time for salads. The heat makes lighter, cooler meals more appealing and the abundance of local produce enables chefs to get more creative with the combinations they offer. Summer fruit – from berries to melons to peaches – can boost eye-catching color on the plate, along with nutrition, texture and sweetness to contrast with accompanying greens, vegetables, grains and pulses. Offering unexpected dressings and dipping sauces can add to the interest too.