It’s salad season – and chances are the weather is making salads all the more appealing to your guests as not just simple side dishes but also as entrées. Make them a more interesting and satisfying menu option by playing with textures and unexpected ingredients. Beyond greens and vegetables, think whole grains, nuts, berries and seeds – especially options like rice, pistachios, blackberries, pomegranate seeds and other items you wouldn’t immediately think of adding to a salad.
Nothing brings out the taste of summer barbecues quite like smoky flavor. And while smoking often conjures thoughts of large cuts of meat and long, overnight cooking sessions, smoky flavor can also elevate the vegetables, desserts and even cocktails on your menu – and without taking all night. This season, consider adding a new smoky dimension to your food and drink options, both sweet and savory.
It may seem challenging to create exciting, frequently changing menus using a small number of core ingredients. But it can be as simple as regularly changing up your menu presentations – recasting your fajitas as a spicy soup special, a salad as a sandwich, a popular entrée as a panini, or even adjusting presentations within a menu category. Looking across your menu, take a dish and imagine it in new formats. If you’re hit with a sudden supply shortage, you’ll have additional options to work with if you can flexibly translate a dish in several ways.
How adaptable is your menu? Consumers nowadays not only have wide-ranging food preferences, but they also have a growing list of dietary requirements and restrictions, whether a need for gluten-free or dairy-free options, or simply items lower in salt or sugar. That could mean reinventing your popular burger or modifying your apple crumble. Across your menu, how well do your menu modifications or substitutions of key ingredients still manage to preserve the ideal experience of a dish?
Is there a rush on plant-based protein at your restaurant? If so, you’re not alone: According to new research from NPD Group, shipments of plant-based protein from foodservice distributors to restaurants were up 60 percent in April compared to the same month last year (and up by double-digit margins over 2019 as well). That growth persisted across alt-protein categories including plant-based beef, chicken, fish and conventional plant-based options like grains, nuts, vegetables, tofu and tempeh. And the rise of plant-based protein may be just getting started. Plant-based restaurants are popping up, even on the high end – like Eleven Madison Park in New York. Meanwhile, universities are developing programs based on the study of cellular agriculture and companies are investing in fermentation technology that could rapidly expand plant-based and even animal-plant hybrid proteins in the years ahead, the Spoon reports. As more players enter the market, expect increasing differentiation in plant-based proteins, such as options with global seasonings, premium options, and even plant-based proteins made in-house at restaurants, Technomic predicts. In your restaurant, it’s a good time to test your guests’ openness to alt-protein options and to assess how incorporating more of these items could support your operation through extending the shelf life of your ingredients, minimizing waste and shrinking your carbon footprint.