Vegetables grow more interesting

Move over carrots and broccoli. A variety of “new” vegetables is showing up on restaurant plates. And it’s not happening in fine dining alone. Many chain and casual concepts are incorporating items like kale, beets and Brussels sprouts on their menus—inspired by chef-driven dishes at more upscale spots.

  • In its compilation of data from U.S. Chains and Independents in 2012, Datassential reports that eight vegetables are among the top 30 fastest growing ingredients on menus
  • Kale leads the pack, growing by 48.7% in menu mentions
  • Brussels Sprouts come in second, at 42%, followed by Celery Root at 36.2% and Mustard Greens at 30.9%
  • Neck in neck at around 26% growth are Roasted Beets, Swiss Chard, Pickled Vegetables and Oyster Mushrooms
  • While health is a driving force behind the introduction of more nutritious vegetables on menus, chefs are also using vegetables as a way to introduce new flavor combinations
  • Salads have been a point of entry for several casual chains. Bertucci’s introduced a salad with roasted beets last February, and Fresh Choice launched two kale-based salads early this year

Datassential concludes: “With dishes like these, kale, beets and the like are no longer seen as simply ‘healthy’ by consumers; now they’re appealing, appetizing and sometimes even decadent menu options. They’ve become yet another vehicle through which a chef can demonstrate his or her culinary prowess.”

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