Issue link: http://magazine.progressivegrocer.com/i/689994
Veggies get their day in the sun 34 SOLUTIONS JUNE 2016 BY K AT H Y H AY D EN From fast casual to fne dining, kale is the new bacon. But it's not only kale: More consumers are looking at vegetables in general as delicious, varied and even indul- gent meal makers rather than just virtuous diet dishes. Sales of value-added vegetables for easier meal preparation jumped 17 percent during the past year, according to Niel- sen Perishables Group, and volume increased 13 percent. Pre-cut peppers and onions grew the most, followed by vegetable mixes. Nielsen also found that sales growth of val- ue-added fruits and vegetables is twice that of regular pro- duce, making these products ideal for grocerant programs. Veggies front and center Vegetables are already worth their weight in gold in the restaurant realm. At the forefront of the veg-centric menu movement is the New York City restaurant Dirt Candy, which highlights chef and owner Amanda Cohen's motto on its website: "Anyone can cook a hamburger, leave the vegetables to the professionals." Te menu includes Korean Fried Broccoli, described as "crack in broccoli form." A rutabaga-ginger-sage cake is topped with mustard tuile and smoked cream cheese, and the Brussels Sprout Taco flling is served on a sizzling stone, ready to stuf into lettuce wrappers. While Dirt Candy is a vegetarian restaurant, vegetables are being lavished with just as much attention for omnivores. At Chicago's Publican eatery, beer and meat boards are the stars, but the Barbecue Carrots and the Grilled Cucumbers with burrata cheese, poppy seeds and spring onions are Hot Food: Move over, meat: Veggies are taking root as the " it" food on menus everywhere. COURTESY OF MCCORMICK & COMPANY "Don't just throw more vegetables out there; add vege- tables in thought- provoking ways." — Chef Gary Patterson, McCormick & Co. Inc. Chefs say the challenge—and fun— of vegetables is using items you already have in-house in new ways.