While only about 15% of consumers follow a restrictive diet—such as paleo or vegan—the number of people who eat meatless meals on occasion is much higher. In fact, 67% of consumers say they eat vegetarian meals once a week, while 43% eat vegan dishes once a week, according to Technomic’s 2017 Center of the Plate: Seafood and Vegetarian report. This means that despite not following specific diets, many consumers are open to eating plant-based dishes on a regular basis.
For those who want to lighten up their meals without going completely vegetarian, blended burger options have long been a viable (and tasty) option. Operators have been blending mushrooms and other meatless ingredients into beef burgers for years now, but that’s not the only place blended proteins can shine. Check out these four ways to incorporate blended options into more menu parts.
According to Technomic’s 2017 Center of the Plate: Seafood & Vegetarian report, one of the fastest-growing vegetarian dishes on menus is pasta. Up 13% year-over-year, pasta is a comforting and filling option, but it’s not known for being a light meal. One way to lighten it up, though, is by incorporating blended proteins in place of meat. For example, instead of making an all-meat Bolognese sauce, operators can swap in a portion of mushrooms to add moisture and flavor. Blended proteins can also work well in pasta dishes in the form of blended meatballs. Meatballs made with mushrooms and beef are moist, flavorful and fit perfectly atop a pile of spaghetti and piping hot marinara.
2. Mexican dishes
Mexican dishes, such as tacos, are among the fastest-growing vegan and vegetarian options on menus, according to Technomic’s Center of the Plate: Seafood & Vegetarian report. Blending meats with mushrooms is one way to lighten up burrito and taco fillings, but there are other options, as well. Blending chopped cauliflower or even walnuts into taco meat, for example, are two interesting and tasty ways to up the veggies or plant-based proteins in a dish. Mushroom-and-beef blends are perfect for other Mexican dishes, too, such as enchiladas.
3. The breakfast menu
Avocado is up 71% year-over-year on vegan and vegetarian entrees, according to Technomic’s Seafood & Vegetarian report, and that could be in part due to avocado toast’s rapid rise in popularity. But while avocado toast is a delicious way to start the day, some diners may want some more protein in the morning. Topping avocado toast with a blended protein patty utilizes burger ingredients—which minimizes prep work for kitchen staff—but it elevates the meal to one that’s indulgent and filling. Blended proteins such as sausage or beef with mushrooms, beans or other veggies can also be used to top a tasty and on-trend breakfast pizza, too.
Speaking of pizza…
4. On pizza
Pizza toppings such as sausage and pepperoni are the gold standard on most menus, but that doesn’t mean that blended options can’t make an appearance. For instance, a bacon-and-beef blend could be used to create a bacon cheeseburger pizza, while a mushroom-sausage blend can be used to complement a white pizza with rosemary and thinly sliced potatoes.
Blended protein options are perfect for diners who want to eat less meat or more vegetables—or even both. Adding in plant-based such as mushrooms into protein blends helps retain moisture, adds flavor and can also help save costs on meat, which is a winning situation no matter how operators look at it.
Phillips Gourmet helps you embrace plant-forward cuisine.
Restaurateurs everywhere are looking for tastier, more sustainable and healthier options to serve consumers. The Phillips Gourmet chef-approved product line of value-added mushroom products does just that. Get started with our ready-to-use Sautéed and Sautéed-Roasted Mushrooms—they’re packed with umami flavor and perfect for entree toppings or sauces!
Using our recipe-ready mushrooms on your menu encourages healthy eating for consumers with a reduction in saturated fat, sodium, cholesterol and calories.
Our mushrooms are not only healthy on the plate, but they’re also gentle on the planet. The production of a pound of mushrooms requires only 1.8 gallons of water and the annual average yield of mushrooms is 7.1 pounds per square foot—meaning up to 1 million pounds of mushrooms can be produced on just one acre! The water, energy, and land needed to produce a pound of mushrooms is a fraction of what’s required for many other foods.
Rather focus on meat reduction instead of moving to a 100% plant-based menu item? No problem! Phillips Gourmet has a line of 60% ground beef, 40% mushroom blends available in a ready-to-cook burger patty or 5 lb. bulk chub.