Roasted vegetables elevate menus, streamline prep and increase attendance in dining halls

Photograph courtsey of Simplot

College and university students want more vegetable options in cafeterias, with some identifying their diets as flexitarian, vegetarian or vegan. Experimenting with roasted vegetables is one way to meet students’ demand for plant-based meals because roasting not only gives vegetables more flavor and interest, it also gives them more status on the menu and helps entice student diners.

Roasted vegetables offer delicious taste, an attractive health profile

Chefs roast vegetables to maximize flavor, and the trend has caught on big time. More and more, diners are seeing roasted vegetables on top of a salad or in a sandwich, and anywhere they turn up, they add flavor and interest. Diners who want a plant-based meal will have craveable options to choose from when foodservice operators find new ways to incorporate roasted vegetables.

Food savvy students seek out vegetable-based meals

When students center their diets on vegetables, they might seek out the meal they want off-campus if they can’t find enough options on-campus. Students who want sophisticated vegetarian or plant-forward offerings can quickly discover where to find the food they like using apps like Yelp or word of mouth. The emphasis on vegetables isn’t going away anytime soon, so operators should pay special attention to ensuring menus are appealing to students and visitors alike.

Roasted vegetables add a new dimension

Roasted vegetables can inspire new plant-based entrées or make an appealing side for those who simply want to add more vegetables in their diets. Options to menu can include:

  • Flame-Roasted Corn, perfect for corn salads and amping up chilis or stews
  • Flame-Roasted Corn & Jalapeno blend, great for Mexican and other Central American cuisines
  • Roasted Maple Sweet Potatoes, lightly seasoned sweet potato chunks with a hand-cut look, oven-roasted in a rich maple seasoning—great on their own or as part of a salad, breakfast hash or other vegetable-focused dish
  • Roasted Baby Bakers Halves, potatoes that have fresh roasted flavor in a miniature size, seasoned to perfection with herbs and parmesan

Easy preparation and storage

RoastWorks® roasted vegetables from Simplot come frozen, which allows quick preparation for fast meal production. The variety of flavors and blends adds spice or interest to new dishes and can accompany salads, soups, wraps and more. They can be heated in a skillet, on a flattop grill or in a microwave or convection oven.

Roasted ingredients take stage at university food trucks

Food trucks are known for featuring inventive dishes, and roasted vegetables can be incorporated in many ways. Flame-Roasted Corn & Jalapeno Blend can spice up a food truck dish such as Corn Crepes with Poblano Cream Sauce, Spicy Corn Cakes, or Corn Chowder.  Roasted Baby Bakers Halves on the other hand, can be offered as an alternative to French fries or incorporated into a dish like Parmesan Potato & Spinach Florentine.

Foodservice operators who find innovative ways to make roasted vegetables the centerpiece of a meal or an appealing accompaniment will benefit in a number of ways. Roasted veggies keep more students coming to campus dining halls, they give operators a new ingredient that adds interesting dimensions, and they offer a healthy alternative to higher fat sides that diners may be trying to avoid.

This post is sponsored by Simplot