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How to add garden-fresh flavor to the menu with clean-label, speed scratch ingredients

Photograph: Shutterstock

As consumer preferences skew away from sugary, artificial tastes and toward fresh, lively flavors from orchards and gardens, operators are looking for ways to update their menus to accommodate these desires. Sometimes, though, adding that fresh flavor can be too time-consuming to be practical for commercial kitchens, as preparing fruit or vegetable purees for everyday kitchen use can take valuable time that staff is already using for other prep work.

Thankfully, speed-scratch ingredients such as fresh veggie purees—including beet puree, carrot puree and rhubarb puree—help move things along in the kitchen, allowing operators to serve delicious, fresh-tasting food and beverages to eager diners without having to hire on additional staff or scrimp on other tasks.

According to Technomic’s recent Healthy Eating report, 74% of consumers say they think food and beverages that are natural are slightly or much more healthy, while 53% say they think food or beverage described as natural is slightly or much more tasty. Best of all, natural products can fetch a higher price—43% of consumers say they are more likely to purchase and are willing to pay more for natural food and beverages.

A few ways natural vegetable purees can be used in the kitchen include:

  • As part of salad dressings: Whisk red beet puree with apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, canola oil and salt to taste, and store in the refrigerator. This dressing is perfect over arugula salads for a delicious bite or as a colorful update to any salad that pairs well with a crisp vinaigrette.
  • Added to cocktails or mocktails: Stir one ounce of carrot puree with one ounce of orange juice and four ounces of lemonade for a refreshing, sweet-tart sip.
  • In desserts: Add a veggie puree to the fruit filling for a hand pie, such as strawberry pie filling with rhubarb puree. Alternatively, use those same flavors to create a strawberry-rhubarb pie shake by adding two ounces of rhubarb puree, two strawberries, three scoops of vanilla ice cream and two ounces of milk to a blender. Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream and fresh strawberry slices for a tasty treat diners will love.

This post is sponsored by Monin

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