Plant-Based for the Holiday

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The most festive holidays of the year are upon us!  There is no grander time to treat paying customers as personal guests, and that means indulging their increasingly various personal diets.  Plant-based diets include vegetarians, vegans, flexitarians, and more.  These customer groups are escalating and many others choose to adopt a plant-based diet for a predetermined amount of time, in the name of health.  Cultivating delicious, beautiful plant-based menus is painless, and dare we say – FUN! There are various ways to prepare these dishes; lets explore a few below.

Preparing Vegetables Like Meats

Preparing vegetables like meats is perceived as both delicious and playful. Present customers with a roasted, whole cauliflower head, to be “carved” at the table. Char grill butternut squash steaks.  Braise king trumpet mushrooms a la minute. Peel and slice Japanese eggplant into “scallops” and sear, just the same. Incorporate only the best quality animal product imitations, such as Beyond Meat’s Italian sausage, and focus on balancing the limitless applications that can be achieved with plants. 

Play Up Ethnic Flavors

Ethnic flavor profiles are an unbridled trend. Look to other cultures’ cuisines for inspiration.  Colorful pictures of ethnic dishes paint the feeds of Instagram, Pinterest, blogs, and much more.  Work vibrant spices, especially spice blends, into plant-based dishes for an instant popularity boost.  Incorporate at least one fresh herb into every dish and allow at least one plant flavor to stand out. ‘Tis the season to be indulgent with your soups – a particularly easy area to create dishes that are vegan, vegetarian or gluten free.

Plan a Holiday Friendly Menu

Enhance variety on menus by developing hot, chilled, and room temperature dishes.  Minimally cooked dishes are especially beneficial for catering and pick-up menus, as they retain their integrity better than hot ones, and can be packaged ahead of time. Shaved, raw vegetables are exceptionally fresh and crisp; cooked, chilled grains add valuable texture to any dish.

Pays to Play

Plant ingredients are generally less costly than animal products, so redirect that spending on a few quality specialty produce items.  Consider it the same investment as buying steaks from a specifically recognized farm to peak interest of discerning diners.  Set your menu apart by featuring uncommon yet accessible produce, grains, beans, lentils, and spice blends. 

 

Appetizers, small plates, and shareables are popular menu sections to feature plant-based dishes in.  Try devoting a section of your menu or a menu insert of your trendy plant-based options like Buffalo Cauliflower bites or Fried Mushrooms with Garlic Aioli (see Recipe section on SyscoFoodie.com). Lastly, capture off premise customers by offering family style meals to-go (example the picture featured above with everything from soups to stuffed acorn squash to gluten-free rhubarb pie).

Enjoy this holiday season as a time to refresh the dining experience for your loyal patrons regardless of their personal diets!



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