Beans shine on the side

From Bush Brothers.

With an eye to eating enjoyment as well as nutrition, noncommercial foodservice operators are menuing bean side dishes with special flair. The inspirations range from the cilantro and chipotles of the Mexican table to Mediterranean-style balsamic marinades to pure imagination—like a sandwich spread made from chickpeas and cocoa.

At the Burlington (Vt.) School District, beans appear virtually every day as side dish, helping to satisfy a diverse student population. "Rice and beans seem to cut across so many cultures," says Doug Davis, director of foodservice for the 11-school, 4,000-student district. "We have such a large demographic here—60 different languages are spoken."

One of the popular bean sides is Black Bean Sweet Potato Salad. Canned black beans are tossed with roasted sweet potato cubes and corn in a Southwestern-inspired dressing flavored with cilantro and chipotle peppers. "It's really colorful and it has a good kick," says Davis. "The kids really like it."

Also in favor are roasted garbanzo beans, a garnish on the salad bar. For this, canned garbanzos are rinsed, dried, seasoned and roasted for added flavor and firmer texture. "I wouldn't call them crispy like nuts, but they are firmer than garbanzos ordinarily are," said Davis. "Texture is really, really big for kids, which is why I think they are popular."

At Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, international bean dishes are popular among the many students who have lived abroad, points out Dean Wright, director of dining services for the 33,000-student university.

"Anyone who has lived for any time outside the United States has discovered the richness and value of beans," says Wright. "I think the perspective of the average student is that they are healthy and provide as much nutrition as more expensive animal proteins."

Bean applications at BYU include hummus, the Middle Eastern garbanzo bean spread, Hoppin' John, a dish of blackeye peas and rice from the American South and Mediterranean Great Northern Bean and Vegetable Salad, marinated with balsamic vinegar and other ingredients typical of the region.

For the latter, Great Northern beans are drained and rinsed and marinated overnight with artichoke hearts, oven-roasted golden tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, red and green bell peppers and grilled zucchini strips. The marinade is a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Before service, grated parmesan and fresh basil are added.

"With the fresh herbs and vegetables and the marinade, it's a lot jazzier than the traditional three-bean salad," says BYU Dining Services executive chef John McDonald.

At La Rabida Children's Hospital in Chicago, bean-based sides play an important role in a healthful diet initiative in a cafeteria which serves 80 to 100 meals to hospital staff and visitors daily. Options range from house-made baked beans for barbecue dishes to white bean and black bean chili to some truly creative bean-based items.

For an example of the latter, take Black Bean Brownies. "Essentially, the beans replace the flour in the brownies and keep in the moisture," says John Athamanah, RD, manager of foodservices at the 30-bed specialty hospital. "So you have changed something that might be considered a quote-unquote bad food into something with pretty high fiber content."

Another bean invention that is unusual as well as healthful is Chocolate Chick Pea Spread, made with chick peas, peanut butter, oil and cocoa powder. It is in development but not launched yet. "Internally, our staff really likes it," Athamanah says. "We're deciding whether to serve it in sandwiches or have it on the side for people to take."

More From FoodService Director

People in Foodservice
lucretia chancler

Lucretia Chancler’s roots lie in Louisiana’s St. Landry Parish. She grew up in the parish, and her mother taught in the school district for 33 years—even occasionally teaching young Lucretia. Advanced degrees and a post-grad job took her to Colorado, Georgia and other places, but St. Landry soon called Chancler back home.

In October 2009, Chancler returned to Louisiana to become St. Landry’s supervisor of child nutrition. The parish’s economic makeup is a big driver behind Chancler’s local mission: More than 85% of the 14,000 students at the parish’s 32 schools are eligible for...

Menu Development
chefs council spread

Last October, we published the results of FoodService Director’s first annual Chefs’ Council Menu Trends survey, revealing predictions for menu shake-ups in 2016 . Many of the predictions panned out, including an increase in snacking, ever-spicier flavor profiles, veg-centric plates, fresh-pressed juices and build-your-own options. Now we’re back with next year’s forecast, culled from our panel of 50 Chefs’ Council members—culinarians representing the core segments of noncommercial foodservice. Some of the flavors, ingredients and cuisines expand on current trends, while others go off in...

Ideas and Innovation
sushi plate

We wanted to add sushi, but that’s not really my expertise. So we found a great local company that offered to put three sushi chefs on-site every day. They supply the ingredients, and if we meet the minimum revenue each week, than we receive a percentage of sales. We have been exceeding the weekly minimum sales, which we track in our POS, in two days.

Managing Your Business
coffee barista

Whether it’s a morning routine, an afternoon pick-me-up or an evening social ritual, few things are as universally appealing as coffee. Sixty-five percent of respondents in Technomic’s 2016 Beverage Consumer Trend Report say they ordered a cup of hot joe from a foodservice location in the past month, and 59% say the same about cold coffee. Everyone has an opinion about what makes it good, whether it’s a low price, a unique blend or a friendly barista.

“Coffee is so personal. There are a lot of people that are Dunkin’ fans. There’s a lot of Starbucks people,” says James Dravenack,...

FSD Resources