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Summer menus sizzle with shareable dishes

Photograph courtesy of Simplot

The summer months herald a different style of eating for many consumers, who may be to seek lighter meals and fresh ingredients.

Shareable dishes offer operators one way to meet the demands of these diners, who are often eating at off hours or nontraditional meal times. Tapas-style offerings, which can be vegetable-centric or feature flavorful meats and cheeses, allow diners to nosh and try new foods together at any time of day.

Limited time offers of shareable plates can help generate excitement and drive higher check averages, while appealing to the snacking impulses that are driving dining patterns among today’s millennials.

Consider creative, on-trend items such as avocado toast squares, which can be served on a variety of carriers and topped with other fresh ingredients such as salsa and cheese. Ingredients such as avocado, which can be used for any daypart, also support ingredient cross-utilization and help streamline inventory.

To incorporate some meat in the summer menu, operators could consider other shareable items such such as grilled chicken or beef kebobs with veggies. For instance, try this recipe for Steak & Potato Skewers with Avocado Chimichurri. The chimichurri sauce gives the item a touch of international appeal as well as the spicy kick many consumers are seeking.

Check out these items currently being offered in restaurants that can provide noncommercial operators inspiration for shareable summer items.

  • Chips and dip is a popular shareable item that works well as a summertime dish, but consider giving consumers some flexibility by offering multiple dips. Sports-themed restaurant Taco Mac, for example, recently rolled out as a limited time offer the Trio Dip, which includes a bowl each of guacamole, queso and salsa with tortilla chips and tortillas.
  • P.F. Chang’s, meanwhile, recently introduced Crispy Avocado Rolls as a limited time offer. The shareable appetizer features hand-rolled spring rolls with creamy avocado, edamame and water chestnuts, served with a sweet orange-honey dipping sauce.
  • Nachos are another shareable staple in many restaurants, but they also lend themselves to creative variations. Operators can vary not only the toppings on these dishes, but also the base, as Johnny Rockets recently did with its Avocado Totchos, which feature crisp tater tots topped with shredded cheddar cheese and cheese sauce, tangy beef chili, pickled jalapenos, fresh diced tomato and chunky avocado.
  • Seafood can also be a great addition to shareable summertime dishes. Consider topping avocado toast with shrimp or making a ceviche. Legal Sea Foods recently menued a Halibut Ceviche with Aji Amarillo and avocado.
  • Similarly, Eddie V’s Prime Seafood offered a Roasted Avocado and Jumbo Lump Crab, with fresh herbs and lemon butter, as an appetizer on its Mother’s Day menu.

And don’t forget the youngest consumers, who might also be interested in sharable items on the kids menu.

Sharable menu items provide the kind of meal experience consumers are seeking during the summer months, when schedules are often erratic and diners may be looking for items on the lighter side. Shareable items also meet consumer demands for snacking, allowing diners to sample multiple dishes and make their own meal based on personal flavor and ingredient preferences.

This post is sponsored by Simplot

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