Posted by Patrick Maness
Many business and industry insiders have noted there has been a major change in how Americans eat. Simply put, vegetables are replacing meat as the main entree. That’s not to say the main course has become squash or broccoli, but more and more, vegetables are stepping up their role. If you need proof of this, note that White Castle, of all places, now serves a Veggie Slider.
The rise of the once humble vegetable from a side dish to the main dish has occurred for a variety of reasons. Vegetarianism is no longer relegated to a small niche in the counter-culture; it’s gone mainstream. Add this to a growing concern over hormones and antibiotics used in raising poultry, pork and beef, along with rising beef prices, and the conditions are right for a major shift in how millions of Americans eat.
As vegetables step up on the dinner menu, you'll notice much more than different portion sizes. Everyone in the food service industry, from head chefs to hospitality and resort owners, will have to rethink their vegetables.
What might some of these changes look like?
The most obvious change is that meat will now become a topping, complement or side. Many people have already experienced this to some degree — think of the bacon bits on a loaded baked potato or chicken in a salad. Now you will see restaurants serving heavy vegetable plates, such as stuffed eggplants or roasted roots, paired with a small cut of meat.
Other more novel movements include the “nose-to-tail” movement, which focuses on using every part of the animal, and the “root-to-stem” movement, which does the same thing with plants. The common goal among these trends is to reduce the amount of food waste. Peels, stems, wilted greens — all of these items might make premium ingredients for the savvy chef.
But even if you’re not ready to go to such extreme measures, you should at least be willing to try serving a few on-trend culinary styles. Expanding your menu with “vegetable-forward” items will increase patronage, for starters, and even if people don’t order the vegetable option, you’ll be seen as forward-thinking establishment.
In this blog series we’ll take the time to explore some of the more exciting and revolutionary aspects of this trend and how it can be incorporated into your business.
Spiralizers and vegetables as the new pasta
It’s no wonder vegetable spiralizers are flying off the shelf and are predicted to be a top trend for 2016. Not only are they fun to use but they make an incredible variety of dishes possible out of virtually any vegetable, from zucchini to beets. No longer seen as playthings for those on a Paleo or raw diet, people from across the culinary spectrum are discovering them. How do you get ahead of this trend? Should you add it to your menu? What do you need to know about spiralizers? Read on to learn.
Root to leaf: How to reduce vegetable food waste and jazz up your menu
As mentioned above, using all parts of the animal has been a big discussion. Now restaurants are focusing on using all the vegetable trimmings. What would normally be thrown away is being re-purposed into delicious, gourmet meals. From an institutional perspective, this method reduces food waste and costs all while appealing to more mindful diners. We’ll talk about some strategies to incorporate this method.
Better Ways to Steam Vegetables in Your Commercial Kitchen
Steamers are a fast and efficient method for cooking food. This method preserves the nutritional value and gives an unforgettable flavor to vegetables. Across the country, more chefs are taking advantage of the benefits of steaming. We’ll tell you how you can, too, and we'll share information about how TriMark can help you choose the best steaming products for your business.
Someone is always spouting the health benefits of red wine, but if you want to make drinks truly healthy, add vegetables. Your brain may automatically go to Bloody Marys, but vegetables and green juices are big. We’ll take a look a look at some examples of drinks using pureed fresh vegetables and herbs, and we'll talk about increased demand for “sophisticated and savory” flavors in cocktails.
As you can see, expanding your vegetable menu can mean a lot of things. Regardless of your vision for your kitchen, this is a trend to follow. This blog series will offer ideas and suggestions to help you incorporate this movement into your business, no matter what style of food you currently serve.