Move over meat, because vegetables are taking centre stage.
With concerns about ethics, sustainability and climate on the rise, everyone is interested in plant-based eating now, whether they’re cutting out meat altogether or merely cutting back. Making vegetables the star of the show is the quickest way to bring new life to your dishes and win new customers.
Vegetables are the very definition of seasonality, and with them you invite a yearly cycle of colour, flavour, and texture into your kitchen. Hugely versatile, vegetables can shine as ingredients in their own right; not just as vegan and vegetarian substitutes for meat or fish.
Learn how to unleash the power of plants and add value to your menus with these plant-based recipe ideas.
Get your grill to go further – add interest to a classic steak by serving a smaller portion of meat and getting inventive with vegetable sides. How about a creamy horseradish slaw and mixed vegetable crisps, with a salad of baby kale and radicchio?
Garnish to the max – a simple entrée becomes a work of art when you get creative with veg. Think about simple accents of flavour and really pushing the presentation. A dish like pan-fried duck breast becomes a work of art when served over a creamy celeriac purée, with jewelled dice of sous vide beetroot, crispy carrot shards and a faintly anise jus.
Switch up classics – use your seasonal palate of veg for a fresh take on old favourites. Serve up sharp Asian slaws, or gratins of greens. Make a mushroom tarte tartin with syrupy balsamic shallots or mix chard stems in your mirepoix.
Sous vide – Bring out the best in green veg such as broccoli by giving them the sous vide treatment before adding to salads or pasta. This technique gives vibrant colour, the perfect al dente texture and retains that freshly picked flavour.
Salt-baking – From multicoloured heritage carrots to a whole celeriac, salt baking really brings out the sweetness in root veg. Serve as a side or make it the star, dotted with goat’s cheese or pesto, and herbs.
Pickling – Serve quick pickles such as sweet sliced onions in vinegar or practice some time-honoured preserving or fermenting. A good pickle will transform a simple wrap, burger or potato salad.
Braising – Braise firm vegetables such as Jerusalem artichokes in a little stock or water scented with fresh bay leaves and orange zest. These tasty nuggets can take the place of potatoes in any comforting casserole or rustic vegetable soup.
Roasting – Try something different and roast radishes with honey, lemon and black pepper. Great with fish, or they will add a new dimension to noodle salad.
Baking – From a simple baked sweet potato to a garlic-scented root veg dauphinoise, long slow baking lets sturdier veg’s flavours develop slowly and sweetly.
Purée – One step on from steaming or sous vide, a single veg purée looks impressive and adds a new element to the plate. Team with crunchy textures for palate-pleasing contrast.
Frying – Think cauliflower is a bit dull? Try soft and sweet pan-fried cauliflower steak with charred edges to tempt your customers. Or make breaded florets and deep fry for seriously moreish savoury nibbles.
Smoking – Gentle smoking can bring new life to old classics. Try a simple starter of smoked asparagus with Hollandaise to pique customers’ interest.
Grilling – Think beyond the usual suspects with a warm autumn salad of grilled endives with walnuts. Grilling is a quick and healthy method that intensifies flavour.
Steaming – Sometimes you just want the simplicity of fabulous produce to shine. Steaming keeps flavours clean and fresh – perfect for more delicate veggies such as asparagus, broccoli, peas and courgettes.
Flex your chef muscles and call on all the techniques you know. Layer them up to create fabulous, complex dishes where no-one will miss the meat.