According to Technomic’s 2017 Flavor report, 65% of consumers say they like trying new flavors from time to time. This means there’s plenty of opportunity for foodservice operators to try out new things on the menu. Of course, the best way to get diners to try something new is to offer them something that’s still a little familiar—going too far outside of their comfort zone can mean they’ll choose to stick to their tried-and-true favorites instead of branching out.
One way to offer great new dishes without scaring away diners who may be less adventurous is to add flavor by roasting fruits and vegetables. This offers a great depth without adding an ingredient they may be unfamiliar with, like a Korean hot sauce or African spice.
Want some inspiration? Check out these five ways that roasting vegetables can take a dish to the next level.
1) Flame-roasted corn & jalapeno queso
Queso dip with zesty green chilis is also a crowd pleaser. Whether ladled over chips and topped with all the trimmings or simply served as a side, it’s an approachable, delicious appetizer. But kick it up with RoastWorks® Flame-Roasted Corn & Jalapeno Blend and diners will be lining up. Best of all, this dish is easy to make—simply mix flame-roasted corn and jalapenos with diced tomatoes and green chilis, then add American cheese, heat, and serve with cilantro garnish. Spoon it over a baked potato or tortilla chips, or serve it alongside a burrito for an indulgent flavor experience.
2) Elote street corn
This perfect summertime snack is a favorite during heat waves. Draw customers in with this street-cart hot-seller, but amp up the flavor by roasting the corn first. According to Technomic’s 2017Flavor report, 51% of consumers say they would be likely to try a new menu item from a Mexican restaurant, so offering this Latin treat in a noncommercial setting is perfect for catching diners’ eye.
To make this dish, puree chipotles and mayonnaise, then combine it with RoastWorks® Flame-Roasted Corn & Jalapeno Blend and butter. Add even more flavor with lime juice, cumin and salt to taste. For the 26% of consumers who say they are looking for bolder flavors when trying new items, this dish absolutely fits the bill.
3) Sweet Potato & Bacon Alfredo Pizza
Pizza is a crowd pleaser, no matter what time of day. But for those who want to go beyond the standard topping options of cheese, sausage, pepperoni and other classics, Sweet Potato & Bacon Alfredo is the perfect change. With a rich base of alfredo sauce, this pizza is topped off with the craveable combo of sweetness from roasted sweet potatoes and savory from smoky bacon. It’s an on-trend option – among consumers, bacon is the second most popular protein topping on pizzas (bested only by pepperoni), according to Technomic’s 2018 Pizza report. It’s a taste sensation no matter how you slice it. To make this pizza, spread crust with alfredo sauce, fontina cheese, bacon, RoastWorks® Roasted Sweet Potatoes, red onions and finish with fried sage and a balsamic drizzle.
4) Roasted maple sweet potatoes with chili flakes and pumpkin seeds
For the 27% of consumers who are looking for spicier flavors when they order new foods and flavors, according to Technomic’s Flavor report, this side dish is just hot enough. Even better, it couldn’t be simpler for operators to put on the menu. Bake RoastWorks® Roasted Maple Sweet Potatoes for 15 minutes, then toss with butter, chili flakes, salt and pepper, and for added crunch, mix in some pumpkin seeds for a craveable side dish. Serve this alongside pulled pork or smoked turkey, and diners may come back for seconds.
5) Smashed Baby Bakers™
This shareable side or appetizer is a unique combination of flavors that meld together for something truly delicious. Drizzle cooked and smashed RoastWorks® Baby Bakers™ with pesto sauce, then top with ham and cotija cheese. Garnished with parsley, this dish would be perfect as a side for grilled steak or an appetizer for everyone to share. With bold flavors from pesto and cotija cheese and smokiness from ham, this is one way that customers haven’t yet experienced the humble potato – and according to Technomic’s 2017 Starters, Small Plates & Sides report, potatoes are some of the most popular sides at breakfast, lunch and dinner. For all day interest, step up your roasted potato game with this unexpected dish.