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Media Spotlight – Menu Innovator® – Veggie-centric!

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Vegetables gone viral!

Vegetables have moved from a boring side dish to a center of the plate focus. Fresh spring vegetables asparagus, radish, snap peas, artichoke, nettles and young beets – just to name a few – roast, sauté, grill and braise their way on to the center of the plate. People are looking for fresh and sustainable produce and are creating healthy, colorful entrees full of flavor and texture. A pasta fan? Try spaghetti squash tossed with hazelnut squid ink pesto at Ink in Los Angeles. Beans are sautéed with garlic, pumpernickel and Meyer lemon at Eleven Madison Park in New York.

What better an accent for fresh spring vegetable preparations but herbs and spices? The right herb can heighten the authenticity of global cuisine. Mediterranean entrees and sides heighten our senses with oregano, mint, sage and rosemary. Latin foods gravitate to cilantro, cumin, paprika and an abundance of chili peppers. Asian foods incorporate lemongrass, kaffir lime, ginger, opal basil and star anise to name only a few. Try white asparagus with opal basil or seared snow peas and maitake mushrooms with leek remoulade.

Unusual veggies? We are not afraid! Growing up a vegetable was a carrot, corn, iceberg lettuce, canned green peas and baked beans. Now, the more unusual the vegetable and preparation to us, the better. Bring them on! Spinach is a favorite in salads and can be prepared countless ways. Nettles are a new vegetable to some of us, but try them in a cooked spinach preparation and they will be your new favorite. Then there’s Asparagus topped with sautéed fiddlehead ferns and morel mushrooms – what could be better? And don’t forget other vegetables now available like ramps, radish pods, salsify and varieties of squash and eggplants.

Fermented foods add intense flavor and texture to menus. Pickled vegetables add flavor to sandwiches, tacos, hamburgers and side items. House made can add individual twists with sweet and sour, herb blends, unique vinegars and spice. Sweet and sour red onions, pickled garlic and red peppers, dill pickles with fresh dill, hot pickled asparagus or green beans and of course any type of pepper. Spicy Kimchi made with cabbage, radish or scallion has become a familiar ingredient. If you’re in the area order Korean Fried Chicken with Spicy kimchi Yogurt, cherries and mint at Talde in New York City!

Thinking of trying new vegetables and preparations what a better way than with small plates. Restaurants offering specialty seasonal vegetables often offer a combinations in small portions. Small plates or Tapas, allow guests to snack their way through a menu. Plates can be small combinations of foods or just one. Michelle Bernstein at Michy’s in Miami offers a small plate of Crispy Fried Potatoes stuffed with an Aji Amarillo Sauce Crisped Serrano Ham and Cilantro. Talde in New York serves a Thai Snack Plate of Charred Sausage, Pickled Young papaya and Shrimp Chips.

Today’s food combinations are endless. Bold flavors and ingredients are crossing into all cuisines and not only into the heavier center of the plate items. We see them here with new vegetable preparations and with the excitement to being able to try so many new culinary combinations with small plates.

Eat well!

Culinary Systems Inc

Windermare, Florida 34786

Email. tlagana@culinarysystems.com

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