Issue link: http://magazine.progressivegrocer.com/i/689994
35 SOLUTIONS JUNE 2016 among a host of enlightened vegeta- ble oferings on the menu. "In many cases, vegetable dishes [at restaurants] are fnished with a small amount of meat, like some chorizo, or they are cooked in lard," notes Gary Patterson, executive chef and manager, culinary science for Sparks, Md.-based McCormick & Co. Inc. "Adding richness is a way to get more attention for vegetables and to give diners some indulgence, but not to the point where they need to nap." Fresh techniques With or without a meaty boost, chefs are fnding new ways to get more favor from vegetables, says Patterson, and oth- ers agree. Chef Lauren DeMaria, director of culinary and business development at Chicago-based CSSI, a marketing and culinary consultancy, points to Chef Jose Andres' Beef- steak fast casual concept in Washington, D.C., as a place where impeccable technique is key to elevating vegetables. "Andres uses seasonal, high-quality ingredients and per- fectly executed sous vide method to cook vegetables to a perfect al dente," says DeMaria. Patterson likes salt- or wood-roasted vegetables accented by a light dressing made with favorful vinegars or carefully selected spice blends. Roasted beets, Brussels sprouts and caulifower, and potato varietals have proven that great favors and variety can come from relatively humble ingre- dients with lower costs, he says. "Tink in terms of layering favors with smoked spices, like paprika, which adds oaky notes," he says. "Spices add favor, color, earthiness, complexity. I like to use the term 'blends with benefts.' Spice mixes with chia and matcha [tea] add great favor and bring umami—or meatiness—to meatless dishes, and also some better health. Many dried spices have anti-infammatory properties." Patterson also likes to add roasted veggies such as mashed beets, carrots or leeks to a hummus of chickpeas or white beans for vibrant color and earthy favors. Keeping the crunch factor At the opposite end of the vegetable cooking spectrum is pickling. "Pickling is huge, and people are extending that trend by pairing interesting vinegars and diferent spices, like turmeric and mustard seed," Patterson says. "It's a fresh, bright, favorful and visually interesting way to treat vegetables, and people are pickling more things." DeMaria likes the fresh crunch that raw or pickled vegetables bring to a meal. "Texture cannot be underesti- mated when focusing on vegetables," she says. "It can be a diferentiating factor, especially when bringing in a crisp and crunch." Both chefs note that the challenge—and the fun—of vegetables is using items you already have in-house in new ways. To this end, Whole Foods has jumped on the "zoodle" (thin strips of zucchini used as "noodles") trend. A recent Whole Foods customer newsletter describes how veggie noodles and spiralized vegeta- bles can be used like traditional pasta or lef raw for marinating or adding to salads. Whole Foods even ofers pre-spiraled vegetables in some locations. "Te trick to introducing more vegetable dishes is to be known for something," says Patterson. "Don't just throw more vegetables out there; add vegetables in thought-provoking ways. Add sides beyond potato and pasta salads. Put as much attention into vegeta- bles as your main dishes. Make sure they taste great, are seasoned properly and are well-balanced." G COURTESY OF MCCORMICK & COMPANY COURTESY OF MCCORMICK & COMPANY Raw veggies can bring fresh crunch to a meal. Mashed beets add vibrant color to traditional hummus.