Lean on shelf-stable, versatile ingredients for craveworthy better-for-you options

fig pizza
Photograph: Shutterstock

While consumers leaned on comfort foods—often indulgent ones—during the peak of the pandemic, the demand for better-for-you options is on the rise again as people head back to their pre-COVID-19 routines. But this demand, paired with the foodservice industry’s current challenges, including labor shortages and tight budgets, can leave operators a little overwhelmed. Fresh fruits and vegetables often come with a higher price tag and a short shelf life, which can be limiting in a noncommercial kitchen.

Thankfully, there’s an alternative—dried fruits and vegetables, including California Figs, can help operators create craveable, delicious, better-for-you options without adding the stress of a short shelf life. Here are a few reasons to consider using them, as well as inspiration for putting them on the menu.

Convenient and shelf-stable

California Figs are a great ingredient to have on hand. When processed, dried figs retain moisture, which helps to extend their freshness and moistness—even though they’re a shelf-stable product. They’re perfect for adorning a salad, dressing up a dessert, cooking down into an indulgent and unique sauce for an entree and so much more. What’s more, there are several ingredient forms of figs to choose from—whole, diced, paste, extruded-diced, powder and juice concentrate, each of which offers its own unique flare to different dishes. By keeping figs or fig ingredients on hand, operators can quickly and easily create a tasty menu offering—without having to worry if their produce has gone bad.

Great taste

Different forms of figs produce different possibilities; diced figs, for example, are consistent in size and shape and elevate baked goods with their premium appearance, while the paste has beautiful coloring and adds flavor and fiber to snacks, sauces and condiments. Because of their variation in flavor and appearance, operators can utilize figs not only to add another level of flavor to a dish, but also visual appeal. For instance, paired with bright green arugula, California Figs are stunning on this California Fig Fast Flatbread. On the breakfast menu, Loaded Almond Butter Toast with California Figs offers an upgraded “PB & J” flavor profile, with a protein boost and an Instagrammable look.

Seasonal flavor—all year long

Figs are harvested for just a few short months every year, but dried figs make it possible to enjoy their complex sweetness year-round. Perfect for fall menus, California Fig Turkey Chili combines figs, fire-roasted tomatoes, spices and beans for a twist on a classic. And for wintertime, nothing’s cozier than California Fig-Cocoa Glazed Beef Tenderloin. Serve the tenderloin with hearty yet healthy sides such as roasted root vegetables and garlic mashed cauliflower for a memorable meal that isn’t too heavy.

By keeping dried figs on hand, operators open up a world of menu possibilities from appetizers to beverages and entrees to desserts. To learn more about California Figs and to get more menu inspiration and recipes, click here.

This post is sponsored by California Fig Advisory Board