Great Spring Ingredients: Foods to Highlight on Menus

shutterstock_157065176Reworking menus to focus on spring menu ideas is a great way to experiment with and incorporate seasonal ingredients into dishes.

So, we peeked into the kitchens of our resident culinary R&D Specialist, Amanda Webb, to find out what’s cooking. And true to form, Amanda shared an array of amazing spring ingredients, components, and ideas that are captivating her and her team this season.

Infused Waters. Coconut water was arguably the first, but now we’re seeing all types of infused waters (maple, artichoke, and even cactus and aloe) popping up on beverage programs. In fact, we recently developed a popular infused water program for a hospitality client using various fruit and herb blends. Translate this trend by creating an infused water blend highlighting a favorite main ingredient or an item your chefs find at that day’s farmers market.

Root Vegetables. Substitute traditional potatoes with these versatile veggies (i.e. parsnips, celery root, turnips, yuka, cauliflower) as starches in soups and lighter stews, as well as innovative sides like chips, fries, fritters and more or as a main vegetarian menu feature. For example, serve cauliflower roasted, poached or grilled whole as if to replace turkey or chicken.

House Made Condiments. Maximize flavor profiles and think beyond bottled dressings and bought butters. Our culinary team favors creating our own condiments in-house. Items such as ketchup, mayonnaise, dipping sauces, hot sauces/sriracha’s, vinegars, dressings, and even house-churned butters have never been fresher … or tasted so good.

Sweet Spreads. New interpretations of sweet spreads are finding their way to seasonal spring menus. Cookie butters, anyone? As sweet and delicious as it sounds, this is one of our favorites. We grind up day old cookies (we love shortbread, snickerdoodle, and peanut butter cookies) until they purée into a “butter” or spread. Then, we mix them with ingredients like peanut butter and maple syrup for great tasting spreads or into milkshakes or ice cream for delectable treats.

Savory Desserts. The idea here is taking classic items and reinventing them with a savory intention or simply highlighting a traditionally savory item. For example, folding herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary) when making cookies and shortbreads or developing granitas (a slushy, frozen dessert) using green vegetables such as celery, cucumber, and mint instead of traditional berries or chocolate.