Baking flavor into vegetables

Turn taste up a notch with fresh spices and cooking techniques.

fauquier veggie stack

The normal rules for roasted vegetables need not apply. Turning a staple into a standout can be as simple as turning down the oven—or turning it off altogether.

When developing a new cauliflower dish, Colt Varney, executive chef at Denver-based DaVita HealthCare Partner’s corporate headquarters, ditched the super-high oven temperatures that many roasted-vegetable recipes call for. Instead, he found that roasting the florets for 15 minutes at just 350 F helps them become silky and creamy on the inside without burning or getting tough on the outside.

To pump up the flavor, Varney added sriracha and garlic. “When you combine the two, the flavor is so spicy and strong that you don’t need to add butter or cream,” he says.

The bold taste and slower roasted preparation have been a hit at DaVita. Varney serves the dish at its Vitality Station, which offers items with fewer than 500 calories, up to four times a week. “We do it so much now, I buy at least 12 cases of cauliflower a week,” he says.

Preserving texture also was the goal for Executive Chef James Wedderburn of Fauquier Health in Warrenton, Va., when developing a vegetable stack with eggplant, asparagus and squash for the hospital’s Bistro on the Hill restaurant. To avoid the eggplant becoming tough and waterlogged, Wedderburn salts the eggplant slices and weighs them down with a plate for at least 20 minutes before grilling them along with the other vegetables. This first step makes the eggplant tender and creamy, he says.

To play up the natural sweetness of the eggplant, summer squash and asparagus, Wedderburn makes a roasted red pepper and tomato vinaigrette. He purees the roasted red peppers and tomatoes with parsley, basil and chives. But instead of using the standard red- or white-wine vinegar, Wedderburn opts for rice-wine vinegar. Though it’s more often found in Asian-style dishes, Wedderburn likes the rice-wine vinegar for its lighter, cleaner and inherently sweeter flavor. “It goes well with the roasted peppers and tomatoes [in the vinaigrette], and since it’s on the sweet side you don’t need as much sugar,” he says.  

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The Louisiana Senate is asking the state’s Education Department to create a task force to ensure every student gets a meal at school, KLFY reports.

The task force resolution was OKed after a bill that sought to end lunch shaming failed to pass the Senate Education Committee last month. State lawmakers say the bill, which was backed by the Louisiana House, failed to pass due to worries about districts losing money.

Members of the community, however, are upset that the resolution does not fully ban lunch shaming. A reporter at KLFY created a Facebook poll asking local...

Industry News & Opinion

An agreement between Northwestern University’s new foodservice vendor and the union that represents many of the school’s service workers has put to rest some staff concerns over its upcoming vendor switch, reports The Daily Northwestern .

Unite Here Local 1 said that it met with representatives of Compass Group North America, which assumes control of the Evanston, Ill., school’s foodservice this fall, and reached a deal to ensure that staff who previously worked under Sodexo and Aramark would have job security with Compass. In addition, the agreement continues many benefits that...

Ideas and Innovation
scratch card

Two days a week, we do scratch card purchases of $6 or more to get a free item on the next visit. Patients and staff look forward to the Monday and Friday scratch card days. It increases sales on slow days as well as guest satisfaction.

Ideas and Innovation
ramen noodles

The Arkansas Heart Hospital in Little Rock has unveiled a new, full-time food truck called Food from the Heart. It’s the first hospital-owned and operated food truck in the nation, according to KATV .

The truck, which will offer a limited menu that includes Chef Coby Smith ’s popular ramen, served its first meal on May 2 and will roll out service throughout the area beginning next month, the report said.

In addition, it will have pop-up locations, allowing the hospital to extend its reach to communities outside metro Little Rock. The truck can also be used in emergency...

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code