Cauliflower rice. Spiralized sweet potato noodles. Portobello burgers. Zucchini ribbons.
Restaurant plates are changing; vegetables are emerging as features on once meat-centric plates. According to research by Technomic, vegetable-based entrées have increased 15% on Canadian menus over the past two years.1
This plant-forward trend is due to several variables, including:
- Chefs are experimenting with innovative culinary techniques to create crave-worthy vegetable options.
- Produce can be an affordable option to build a full plate with big perceived value for customers.
- Interest in flexitarian eating, plant-based diets and vegetarian options is increasing.
If you’re looking to add on-trend vegetable-based entrées, look to vegetables like cauliflower, squash and root vegetables to build your dish. The addition of a protein can turn your popular vegetable side dish into an entrée. Think pulses (e.g. lentils, black beans), toasted nuts and seeds or cheese.
Cheese is a particularly flavourful ingredient that allows you to create a more comfort food-style dish that will garner rave reviews on a fall menu.
What does cheese do for the diner? Satisfies them. Cheese:
- Contains protein; protein helps them feel satiated for longer.
- Adds value; they won’t walk away thinking all they ate was a plate of vegetables for X number of dollars.
- Tastes great; taste is the number one reason why people choose the foods they do.
In addition, most vegetarians eat dairy foods, and so adding cheese, as a protein-source to your veggie-based entrées will satisfy your vegetarian customer requests.
Here are 3 cheesy options that pack satisfying, value-adding protein in warm vegetable-based comfort food dishes:
- Roasted Cauliflower Pasta. Create a drool-worthy creamy sauce for roasted cauliflower pasta by stirring in our Smooth Plain Cottage Cheese – it’s a protein-packed cottage cheese that is totally smooth and luxurious like sour cream.
- Warm Root Vegetable Salad. Top warm, caramelized roasted root vegetables, such as beets, brussel sprouts, carrots and parsnips, with feta cheese and toasted pine nuts; the roasted root vegetables pair perfectly with the creamy texture and tangy taste of feta cheese. Turn it into a galette for a little more intrigue.
- Sweet Potato Black Bean Tacos. Cheese is a must-have partner for veggie-based tacos. Kick your tacos up a notch with Jalapeno Goat Cheese, Garlic & Pepper Cheddar, or Chipotle Habanero Colby.
Written By: Shannon Crocker MSc RD, Vibrant Nutrition Communications
- Vegetables move to the centre of the plate with vegetarian and vegan entrees.