At a time when small plates, all-day snacks and off-daypart meals continue to be in demand, your tapas menu can be a great draw. In addition to crowd pleasers like croquettes or potatoes with aioli, try to create some balanced meals in miniature form to elevate your menu. Adding some spice or heat can help too. Options like chicken tapas with sweet potato puree and green chili salsa tick all of the boxes for a satisfying small plate.
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.
For many people, summer means seafood – and white fish is a low-calorie source of lean protein, making it an ideal choice for healthy meals. Cod can be prepared in so many ways and its light flavor provides a foundation for a broad range of recipes. Try it with Mediterranean herbs and produce. While cod’s many appealing qualities have placed the fish among the seafood varieties that have been over-fished, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch provides guidelines to help you ensure you’re purchasing cod from sustainable sources. https://bit.ly/2WXViXd
The decision to use one kind of pasta over another in a recipe may seem insignificant at first. But the shape of the pasta you use can add so much interest to a recipe because of how it mixes with other ingredients and adheres to sauce. Bucatini, which is like spaghetti but hollow to help carry sauce through a dish, is ideal for creamy sauces and subtle flavors that you want to make sure come through in each bite. Pair it with this lemony cream sauce and then add shrimp for a filling, satisfying meal.
At a time when it has become all too clear how critical it is to look after our health, consumers are looking for new ways to protect it in delicious ways. Show them how kale can help! It is one of the most nutrient-dense foods around and can promote heart health, lower blood pressure, and reduce inflammation and stress, among other benefits. While its tough texture and bitterness can detract from its appeal for some, it’s all about the preparation and surrounding ingredients. The strong, tangy taste of Asian dressings and seasonings are an ideal complement. Add some grilled shrimp for a complete meal that’s not only nutritious but flavor-packed too.