Posted on Monday, 5ᵗʰ October, 2020
Edited on Wednesday, 23ʳᵈ November, 2022
Show your guests that wholesome eating doesn’t mean sacrificing flavour.
With Covid-19 top of mind, your guests will more likely be looking for wholesome dining options including nutrient-rich vegetables and fruits, and fresh herbs and spices. With an increased focus on vegetables in a healthy diet, veggies will continue to move to the centre of the plate. This spring, you can show your guests that wholesome eating doesn’t mean sacrificing flavour.
One way to break through a guest’s notion that vegetables are boring is to prepare them in new ways that enhance their natural flavour such as roasting, smoking or serving them with a heavy char.
For an on-trend way to work more veggies into your menu, consider using seasonal vegetables as a replacement for meat or pasta. Spiralizing vegetables is a popular, unique way to easily prep veggies for use in pasta-inspired dishes, as well as on pizzas, atop burgers or salads, in tacos or even in soups.
While some vegetables remain mainstays on spring menus, such as asparagus, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, potato and silverbeet, many chefs are focused on new emerging spring vegetables such as Asian greens, kale and mushrooms to add a new twist to their menus.
Keeping go-to seasonings on hand goes a long way in making sure your vegetables are as delicious as more calorie-heavy options on the menu. The ingredients below are a great place to start when looking for herbs and spices to boost the flavour and crave-ability of your vegetables.
This unique seasoning is both a herb in its own right and a Middle Eastern blend of dried herbs that differs from region to region. It usually contains oregano or thyme, sesame and sumac and is often used as a sprinkle-on or a finisher for high-impact flavour.
Adds warmth and makes for a more complex taste. Add to root vegetables, stir fried spinach or curries, but be aware that a little goes a long way.
This key ingredient in hummus is high in nutrients and offers a great texture. It can be used as a dressing, drizzle or dipping sauce.
This Moroccan spice blend is aromatic and spicy and gives warmth to both savoury and sweet dishes. The blend differs but it usually contains nutmeg, ginger, coriander, cumin, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, anise seed and black and white pepper.
This stock is one of the cornerstones of Japanese cuisine. It is mainly made from kombu (dried kelp and bonito flakes, dried and smoked skipjack tuna that is shaved into thin flakes) and adds umami to sauces and soups.
The king of all fungi is the porcino. When dried, the flavour becomes even more concentrated and savoury. It’s a perfect condiment in stocks and sauces.
“Dried mushrooms/shiitake are high impact flavour for a small amount and can give beefy notes.”
- UFS Chef Einav
This by-product of fermented soybeans is indispensable in any kitchen cupboard. There are many varieties, from light Japanese soy sauce to thicker Chinese soy and sweet Indonesian soy.
Tamarind pulp is dark and has a deep, tart flavour. It can also be dried in a powder. Add it to curries, chutneys, and sauces for a more complex flavour.
Paprika is the powder of smoked capsicum with an intense smoky flavour that really gives a boost to dishes. Add to roasted potatoes, savoury yoghurt, charred broccolini, or sprinkle in a squash soup.
There are many varieties of this sweet, savoury, nutty Japanese paste made from soy or rice. It ranges in taste from the mild white variety to the dark brown and more pungent offering. It packs a concentrated, salty flavour that’s ideal for sauces and soups or even caramelized vegetables and fruits. You can also add a little paste to your pasta sauce for a unique twist.
“Miso is pure umami — it has a huge impact for a small amount.”
- UFS Chef Einav
Whole lemons are pickled with salt and spices and this develops a very distinct flavour. Blend into a salsa verde with lots of green herbs for roasted vegetables, or use in stews or marinades. It is also great for crusts, cauliflower, and rubs, according to UFS Chef Einav.
To get started with new and exciting flavours, give guests a taste of classic Japanese cuisine with this Furikake cauli burger recipe.
"The content of this article is intended for inspiration purposes only. It is not intended as clinical, medical or nutritional advice."