Bowls are the perfect carriers for a range of culinary creations, from on-trend dishes such as ramen and other globally inspired creations to plant-forward offerings that are packed with nutrition.
Bowls appeared on 24.3% of operator menus at the end of 2018, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor, and their presence has been growing slowly but steadily for the past five years, fueled in part by growing consumer interest in international cuisines.
As consumers increasingly seek out healthier dining options, bowls have become an even more important element of the restaurant operator’s repertoire. With a base of ancient grains or leafy greens, a carefully selected combination of vegetables and lean proteins and a flavorful dressing or sauce, the possibilities for healthy, flavorful bowl dishes are limited only by chefs’ own imaginations.
Here are four inspiring ideas for creating bowl dishes that appeal to modern tastes and trends.
1. Go veggie-centric with plant-based bowls
Bowls readily accommodate the trend toward plant-based eating, as they lend themselves to hearty vegetable combinations. Veggie bowls have increased 10.4% on restaurant menus in the last year, according to MenuMonitor. These bowls can take the form of traditional salads on a base of greens, rice or other grains, while the addition of ingredients such as mushrooms can impart an umami flavor and juicy texture that satisfies vegans, meat-eaters and everyone in between.
A veggie-packed option includes one at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile location. There, diners can enjoy the Green Goddess Bowl, with farro, chickpeas, broccolini, cucumbers, hard-boiled egg, pine nuts and peas.
2. Pack the bowl with protein
Bowls are a great way to deliver the protein consumers are looking for, whether that comes from seafood, poultry, beef, pork, grains or legumes. More than a third of consumers (34%) are more likely to buy and are willing to pay more for dishes that have high-protein claims, according to Technomic’s 2018 Heathy Eating Consumer Trend Report.
Breakfast and brunch chain Another Broken Egg Café last year introduced the aptly named Protein Power Bowl, which includes a base of faro and red rice, topped with turkey, arugula, spicy house pickled beets, mushrooms, avocado and fresh mozzarella. It comes with a spicy, house-made honey garlic glaze.
3. Look for new noodle inspiration
The growing popularity of Japanese ramen has expanded the possibilities for the use of noodles in bowl recipes. Asian-style noodles, such as udon, rice noodles or buckwheat noodles make an interesting base for dishes that work well in bowl form.
At University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Sandburg Residence Hall, diners can enjoy a build-your-own-ramen bar, featuring miso-mushroom broth or shoyu pork broth, and an array of toppings. Italian pasta dishes also make great bowls and can be give a healthy halo with the use of vegetables such as mushrooms and zucchini.
4. Tap other global flavors and ingredients
Consumer interest in Asian dishes is one example of global inspiration impacting bowl dishes, but other trending cuisines, such as those of India and Latin America, also fit neatly into bowls. In fact, Mexican bowls have grown 3.1% in the past year on restaurant menus, according to MenuMonitor.
Colonial Café & Ice Cream, a five-unit family dining chain in the Midwest, offers a Peruvian Quinoa Bowl, which, in addition to Peruvian quinoa, also includes long grain and wild garden rice, sauteed onions, portabella mushrooms, sauteed spinach, and tomatoes. It is drizzled with sesame garlic sauce and can come with grilled mixed vegetables or a choice of proteins.
Sautéed-Roasted Mushrooms: Plant-Forward Flavor
Phillips Gourmet’s Sautéed and Sautéed-Roasted Mushrooms are Umami-rich, clean-labeled, and ready to add savory, fresh-off-the-grill flavor to any bowl or other application. Our seasoned Portabella or Button mushrooms are flavorful, consistent, and convenient ways to enhance greens, grains, and proteins. Give your bowls a flavorful boost with the addition one of nature’s most savory superfoods. Our recipe-ready, Umami-packed Sautéed and Sautéed-Roasted mushrooms are also flavorful additions to sandwiches, soups, sides or any application. In addition to boosting flavor, they reduce the fat, sodium, cholesterol, and calories. No wonder they are called a superfood!
As one of the largest mushroom growers in the US, Phillips Gourmet is a 3rd generation, family-owned business. Our state-of-the-art growing operations and SQF-certified processing facilities give you the highest quality, consistent, ready-to-use mushrooms available on the market today. And, as a vertically integrated grower and processor, you’re buying direct from the farm!
Phillips sautéed and roasted mushrooms are recipe-ready and require no additional prep. Just heat and serve! And, since mushrooms are one of the most sustainable foods in the world, you can build a better bowl for your customers and the planet! For additional information see us at www.phillipsgourmet.comor call 610-925-0520.