3 on-trend takes on beans

From ethnic flavors to breakfast, here’s how these plant-based ingredients are showing up on menus.

sunshine hummus

From Bush’s Best®.

Although many consumers today actively seek out better-for-you options, nobody wants a bland meal. Today, operators across segments are innovating with plant-forward, on-trend ingredients that can easily be used across the menu to offer dishes that both appeal to health-conscious diners but offer the craveability all consumers clamor for.

Beans are a valuable tool of on-trend, economical cooking. As a low-cost, plant-based protein source that works well across all dayparts, dishes with beans are resonating with operators and diners alike. Here’s how.

Global appeal

With consumer demand for ethnic options at an all-time high, the time is ripe for operators to innovate with these items—and beans are a natural fit for globally inspired dishes of all types. The abundance of Central and South American dishes built on beans makes these cuisines an area of opportunity, especially since they span the dayparts. Where would brunch be without huevos rancheros? And who doesn’t love a breakfast burrito, stuffed with any number of fillings such as beans, eggs, avocados and cheese?

But beans aren’t only found with Latin-inspired menu items. According to Technomic’s MenuMonitor, Indian is a growing flavor paired with beans, up 9% in menu mentions year over year. The building blocks of Indian flavors, such as curry powder and garam masala, are natural kicks to the versatility of chickpeas and navy beans.

Chana masala, for instance, is a blend of chickpeas, onions, cumin, coriander, ginger, garlic and tomatoes. Providing a swell of flavor with global appeal, this bean-centered dish is inexpensive to prepare and is reminiscent of the familiar American chili—but with an Indian twist.

All-day eating

Beans for breakfast is nothing new to our English eaters—the U.K. staple dish of beans on toast goes back nearly 100 years. Hearty and economical, beans offer a big flavor for customers looking for a flavorful, filling breakfast.

In the United States, though, beans are still emerging on breakfast menus. But with grain bowls topped with fried eggs, roasted vegetables and other better-for-you ingredients on the rise, it’s only a matter of time before beans are just as popular here as they are across the pond. In fact, breakfast starch dishes including beans have increased 7% year-over-year, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor.

Beans aren’t just for breakfast, either. Their protein-packed profile makes for comforting, filling lunch and dinner dishes, and because they’re perfect alongside vegetables as well as meats, they’re perfect for those following special diets as well as those who eat a more traditional array of foods.

Beans’ versatility comes into play in these later dayparts as well, especially with barbecue-inspired dishes. Smoky flavors are a natural with cooked bean dishes—think shredded chicken, roast pork, or grilled skirt steak, which is up approximately 8% as a protein paired with beans, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor.

Hummus and beyond: Beans as snacks

Hummus, made with chickpeas, olive oil and tahini, is the perfect dip for veggies, crackers and more—and it provides a protein punch for snackers who need something a little more satisfying. Along the same lines, operators can pique customer interest with a white-bean puree with roasted garlic, fresh basil and parmesan cheese for an Italian-inspired spread.

But beyond bean dips, there are a number of other bean snacks proliferating on the menu right now. For instance, instead of roasted nuts, snackers can now turn to a selection of flavored roasted chickpeas—from sweet (cinnamon) to savory (sea salt or ranch) to spicy (habanero or barbecue) and even chocolate-covered. Beans are also showing up as chips (like black bean tortilla chips) and crackers—which can then be dipped into virtually anything, from salsa to guacamole to onion dip.

Get on board with beans: a cost-effective, trending menu addition

Beans are a big help for the bottom line while helping to boost topline sales. Why? Gentle on food cost and requiring little energy to coax big results, cooked beans are a labor saver. And customers are all over bean dishes, from morning to night and even in between. Beans can easily fit into virtually any daypart, from savory breakfast options to snacking opportunities and even dessert. Stay on-trend by offering the latest iterations of beans and bring interest to the menu with an array of different flavors.

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
kitchen staff

If noncommercial operators hope to pull job candidates away from restaurant jobs, here’s what they’ll need to offer, according to a flurry of new research.

The data underscore that pay, once third or fourth on most lists of the reasons foodservice employees leave a position, is becoming a far more important consideration for taking or keeping a job. Financial security is particularly important for members of so-called Gen Z, or what’s being defined as young people age 21 and under, according to the study just released by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (...

Ideas and Innovation
tailgate

Not all the rivalry during a weekend of college football is limited to action on the field. Restaurants are intensifying their competition with college and university foodservices for the game day spreads that fans will set up in stadium parking lots and countless living rooms this season.

Operators ranging from Taco Bell to small independents are adding platters and meal packages this fall to capture more of the big-dollar spending by sports fanatics for tailgate parties and “couch gating,” the at-home version. They’re awakening to the opportunity many C&U foodservice...

Sponsored Content
local produce

From The Henry P. Kendall Foundation.

The Henry P. Kendall Foundation has spent more than 60 years investing in people and projects designed to make the world healthier and more sustainable. For the past six of those years, the Foundation has focused on the health and vitality of the food system within its native New England, with an eye toward increasing the amount of locally sourced food that is consumed in the region.

To do that, the Kendall Foundation looked to large-scale institutions, such as colleges and universities.

“By leveraging the buying power of the...

Sponsored Content
chicken wings

From Pierce Chicken.

Consumer demand for comfort foods is at an all-time high. Classic choices such as mashed potatoes, ice cream, French fries, meat loaf and macaroni and cheese continue to attract fans—even in senior living residences, cutting-edge college dining halls and office cafeterias where there are dozens of other on-trend menu choices.

One comforting ingredient that’s in high demand is chicken, but what is it about chicken that makes it such a feel-good food? Well, consumers grew up on Mom’s chicken soup and chicken pot pie, so it could be that it reminds them...

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code