The popularity of coconut has continued with mentions on menus growing 2.9% year-over-year. Customers love it for its nutritional value and natural, tropical flavor.
• Sear, sauté and pan-fry proteins such as fish and vegetables in coconut oil to give dishes a tropical spin.
• Use coconut milk to braise shellfish such as clams and mussels and make dipping sauces for fried foods such as calamari.
• Slather housemade coconut jam on artisan toast for a decadent breakfast special.
• Top trendy acai bowls with coconut flakes.
Using wine, beer or liquor as ingredients can add complex flavors to your menu, and make a dish appear more upscale. Bourbon and beer have particularly stood out in new menu rollouts.
• Finish sauces with liqueurs.
• Infuse tequila with chile peppers.
• Add bourbon, beer or wine to barbeque sauce.
• For dessert, poach fruits such as pears in wine, infuse liqueurs into whipped cream, or spike cakes.
COOL AS A CUCUMBER
Pickles have been on-trend lately, but now the cucumber itself is getting traction. This crunchy veggie has extreme versatility outside of the standard salad.
• Pickle the vegetable for a tangy accompaniment to any dish, from cheese plates to fried chicken.
• Purée with yogurt and lemon for a light, refreshing sauce, a good alternative to mayo for burgers.
• Add to salsas for a fresh accompaniment for grilled fish.
HOT + BOLD
Goodbye Sriracha, hello ghost peppers. The next level of hot and bold can be found in ethnic peppers and sauces like gochujang from Korea and harissa from North Africa.
• Use piri piri peppers — African bird’s-eye chile — in BBQ rubs or as a base for savory, spicy sauces.
• Sprinkle shichimi togarashi, also known as Japanese Seven-Spice, on top of fries or anything that needs a spicy kick.
• Add harissa (Tunisian chile paste) to ground meats to add a fiery kick to burgers.
STUFFED IS BETTER
The surprise is matched only by the the happiness you feel when biting into a pocket of crunchy or creamy stuffing. From burgers to squash blossoms – stuffed is always better.
• Stuff burgers with artisanal and local cheeses; try blue cheese to pack a flavorful punch.
• Serve mashed potato and farmer’s cheesestuffed pierogies as an appetizer topped with caramelized onions and a side of sour cream.
• Incorporate on-trend variations on dumplings such as crab rangoon or empanadas stuffed with barbecue chicken, ham and cheese or Italian sausage.
FEAST ON FRIES
Loaded French fries are still in their heyday, graduating from poutine-inspired toppings of gravy and cheese curds to build-your-own endless options.
• Top with classic ethnic combinations such as feta, oregano and red wine vinegar for a Greek spin, or guacamole and jalapeños for Mexican flair.
• Brine fries for a different take on the salt and vinegar chip.
• Ditch the spud and get creative with different vegetables such as trendy avocado.