Vegetarian seafood and healthy comfort foods highlight emerging menu trends

Vegetarian seafood and healthy comfort foods highlight emerging menu trends

Modern Market Eatery at the University of Notre Dame Student Union serves Elote Pizza topped with Mexican corn and cream on the street. / Image courtesy of Pat Cope.

Global snacks from different parts of the world, plant-based innovation and convenience foods with a healthy aura are just some of the many trends non-commercial operators witnessed during the Menu Trends 2022 conference, held this week at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

Some of these trends emerged during presentations during the conference, while others were sampled and sipped at culinary workshops and vendor fairs. These six Trends have climbed to the top, proving that foodservice menus are indeed going in new directions.

vegan tuna tacos

Vegetarian tuna on crunchy meat pie

Seafood swaps. Vegetarian chicken, beef, and pork are familiar alternatives to meat, but seafood made from plants is the new kid on the block. Veggie-free tuna made with winter melon has the texture and color of a sea-caught tuna, especially when the cubes are combined with ginger and vegetable miso sauce in this vegetable tuna wasabi roll.

Vegetarian tuna also makes a great swap in a poke bowl, as do diced cooked beets. Visual clues play a big role in gaining acceptance of vegetable alternatives.

Comfort foods with a healthy aura. In the same vegan style, this fall mini pot pie filled with lentils, chickpeas, cranberries, cannellini beans, mushrooms, and squash topped with red lentil biscuits was just as tasty and filling as the chicken or beef version. Samples of recipes from the world of pulses also showed how beans, peas and lentils can go into a delicious dessert –brown butter Chickpea blondie with adzuki bean ice cream.

The healthy, comforting breakfast food also got the sweet treat. Dark Chocolate & Coffee Overnight Oatmeal is made with probiotic-rich Greek yogurt, high-fiber oatmeal, dark chocolate sauce, cold brew, bananas and chocolate chips.

Gluten-free is still in demand, especially in C&U and healthcare operations. A demonstration of this innovative potato recipe showed how to build a gluten-free reuben sandwich using hash browns as bread, as well as spaghetti bolognese using french fries instead of spaghetti or rotini.

Technomic’s presentation on “How to Revive Your Menu” revealed that relaxed and indulgent menu items continue to receive the highest attractiveness ratings.

pulse pie

Autumn pot pie

Menu items are easy to connect. Molly McGrath, director of operations and cooking at All Day Kitchens, emphasized the importance of creating a customized delivery menu for a successful program. She recommends choosing only foods that travel well, so customers get the same quality they get from eating. It’s not necessary to pack everything on your list into takeout containers.

Vendor fairs offered some good examples, including a three-bean rice bowl, sweet potato poutine, and a Southwestern Quinoa Salad Cup—Quinoa, vegetables, cheese cubes, and vinegar packaged in a plastic cup with a lid.

Snack Street Global. At a workshop presented by Smithfield Culinary, attendees learned that snacks can be a more cost-effective and friendly way to introduce diners to unique global flavours. Generation Z customers are a particularly good target for this idea – they are open to flavors of adventure and have lower incomes.

Mexican street corn, or elite as it is on the streets of Mexico City, appeared on a cob and grilled, then brushed with Caesar dressing and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. But the ingredients also flavor many other snacks and apps, including Elote Dip made with queso cheese dip, frozen corn, jalapeno mix, lemon juice, and cotija; Street Corn Fries Topped with Chili, Coriander, Roasted Sweet Corn, and Cotija; and Elote pizza, topped with cornmeal, topped with cream and served at Modern Market Eatery, a casual fast chain with a location in the Notre Dame Students’ Union.

There were also Indian and Middle Eastern street snacks on offer, including fresh mango salad, chaat fries, potato shawarma and kofta kebab with tzatziki.

Labor saving solutions. The Work Challenge It was a topic that was featured in many presentations, demonstrations and discussions, and value-added and labor-saving food products offered tasty solutions.

King’s Hawaiian, the bakery that provides bread and bread for food service, has created one innovative tool. The company’s slider cakes now come in one sheet, and the chef layered the seasoning and delicious sandwich ingredients on the bottom, replaced the top layer and then cut everything into 24 individual sliders. Undo each slider bar individually.

Video souss meat, fully cooked and ready to reheat, was offered at the vendors’ fair, along with cooked and fried barbacoa, grilled “pig” wings as a substitute for chicken wings, and fancy meats and cheeses for instant charcuterie boards.

Enhancement of flavor through food science. Fat washing, a technique mixologists use to add richness to cocktails, was translated into Asian sauces by Kikkoman’s chef, Andrew Hunter. It is based on the principle of polarity, that oil and water do not mix.

To demonstrate this technique, Hunter browned butter to deepen the flavor, infusing it with ginger and tarragon. Then he added ponzu, a citrus-seasoned soy sauce, to the butter and cooled the mixture until the fat solidified on top. Once the butter is solid, it is poured and tossed but the flavor particles from the brown butter permeate the ponzu to give it a smooth, rich texture.

Serve the fat-washed ponzu hunter with chow mai dumplings for the perfect pairing.

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