All the Modern Conveniences in the Produce Category
Coinciding with the arrival of spring, your customers will be delighted to find your menu rejuvenated with gorgeous, colorful, fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s no secret today’s consumers desire foods that will contribute to a healthy lifestyle. More and more people have come to realize that foods loaded with healthful attributes can also be the most flavorful and delicious.
Chefs may have been reluctant in the past to introduce certain items to their menus because of the prep time involved. Growers and distributors are constantly searching for ways to add convenience to the products they offer. Let’s explore some of the modern conveniences in the produce category that will refresh your menu without the need to add another cook to the chopping brigade.
Cauliflower is a hot commodity right now – from sautéed steaks the size of a Porterhouse to miniscule tidbits that resemble rice. Cauliflower steaks are an easy accomplishment, but the rice is a different matter. No worries. Cauliflower already nicely riced is available to easily allow you to add new and trendy items to your menu, while eliminating the carbohydrates and gluten many of your patrons wish to avoid. Items that traditionally were served on a bed of rice will get a new lease on life served atop cooked cauliflower rice. It will complement curries, stews and many Asian dishes nicely. Also consider using cauliflower rice in Mexican specialties, pilaf, risotto, stir-fry, fried “rice,” soups, stews, salads and sides. At Vedge, an acclaimed vegetarian eatery in Philadelphia, the stuffed avocado is filled with romesco sauce, pickled cauliflower, fried cauliflower rice and black salt.
These little beauties are still sprouting up on menus, even without the ubiquitous bacon. Operators can procure Brussels sprouts whole, halved, sliced or shredded. A nifty sprout slicer utensil is available from Reinhart for those chefs who wish to style their own. Shredded Brussels sprouts add a flavor surprise and wonderful texture to slaws, salads and sandwiches. At Willow in Pittsburgh, one of the most popular small-plate offerings is fried Brussels sprouts, paired with Pecorino cheese, chili confit and garlic aioli.
Here’s a list of some of the other produce convenience products that will eliminate tedious kitchen labor and give chefs more time for creativity:
- Lettuce fillets
- Broccoli crowns
- Cilantro, washed and trimmed
- Garlic, peeled
- Onions, whole peeled
- Parsley, washed and trimmed
- Spinach, baby, organic and triple washed
- Romaine hearts and fillets, washed and trimmed
Why not borrow a page from the French? Add a touch of delight and whimsy to your guests’ first impression at the table by presenting them with a little bite of food to amuse the mouth and invigorate the palate while they are enjoying drinks and perusing the menu. Imagine the lovely impact made by colorful gazpacho in a double shot glass or a tiny ramekin filled with a fresh, savory fruit cocktail.