The Vegetable Trend


Photo:  La Tartine Gourmande on flickr

Vegetables are hot — declared the new meat by New York Magazine and the next big trend by Food and Wine.

Indeed, it’s a good time to be vegetables.  Now if only we can get people to eat more of them!  As I recently wrote about, only 6% of Americans are eating enough veggies.  Most people fall dramatically short of  recommendations — five or  more servings a day.

Even so, we’re going to have lots more options to choose from, writes Elizabeth Sloan in an article “A New Vegetable Medley” featured in November’s Food Technology.

The American Culinary Federation chefs surveyed by the National Restaurant Association in October 2010 named locally grown produce, hyper-local (restaurant gardens), organic produce, micro-greens, pickled vegetables, hybrid vegetables (e.g. broccoflower), vegetable ceviche, warm appetizer salads and children’s vegetable side items and entree salads among the hot trends for 2011.

592302749_907a656010_oWith the strong movement to American regional cuisine, ACF chefs expect sweet potatoes, root vegetables and dark/bitter greens (e.g., kale, beet tops, broccoli rabe) to move onto mainstream menus. Jerusalem artichokes/sunchokes, edamame, hot peppers, Asian mushrooms, radish/daikon, cabbage, eggplant and specialty potatoes (e.g., purple, fingerling, Baby Dutch Yellow) are other vegetables that the chefs predict will be hot in 2011.

In cutting-edge fine-dining restaurants, asparagus, eggplant, peas, okra, corn on the cob, artichoke hearts and grilled vegetables are among the top vegetable sides on menus, according to the Foodservice Research Institute’s MenuMine database. Eggplant, plantain, Brussels sprouts, and Swiss Chard are among the gainers on the a la carte side dish list.

Photo:  La Tartine Gourmande on flickr

Butter and cheese sauces, marinara, barbecue, garlic and soy sauces are topping off vegetables served in fine-dining restaurants.  Mexican, Cajun, Italian and Asian are among the trendy vegetable seasoning blends. Dill, ginger, cinnamon, chives, rosemary and basil are among the spices frequently used to season veggies, according to MenuMine.

Sloan says watch for more wine, curry, mustard and tomato sauces for vegetables, more ethnic blends, more crunch from nuts or fried onions, and restaurant-branded vegetable-based products. Other product concepts with potential include vegetables mixed with beans, pulses or pasta and vegetable dishes spiced up with a twist of Szechuan or jalapeno pepper or a signature item such as Chinese cabbage.

Other menu trends:  sesame- or panko-breaded appetizer vegetable tidbits, vegetable ceviches, pizzas, terrines and souffles.  Salad sandwiches are among the menu trends identified in Technomic’s 2010 Sandwich Report.


Photo:  Vegetable ceviche in tomato cups by janello on flickr

Expect to see some new vegetable buzzwords, says Sloan.  With the concern over safety and country of origin, she says hothouse products and hydroponics will get a boost.  Supermarkets will begin to sell their produce outdoors in set-ups designed to resemble farmers markets. Additionally, with 57% of consumers aware of the term “phytochemicals,” according to Mintel’s 2009 Functional Foods report, look for more “natural goodness” and “naturally rich in” descriptors on vegetables and vegetable-based products.  We’ll also see more blending of vegetables to achieve very high fiber or antioxidants levels.

What are your favorite vegetables?  Have you enjoyed an innovative vegetable dish in a restaurant recently?


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  • Carol Plotkin

    I am excited to see this trend! Less than 2 years ago I was at PF Chang’s with my family and was dismayed to see the children’s menu state that the new menu now included less vegetables! We haven’t been back!

    I love all the vegetables mentioned in this article but I’m particularly crazy for mushrooms! Interestingly, I hated them as a kid.

    My favorite restaurant vegetable is served in Rochester, NY at 2Vine and is their Brussels sprouts. I order it every time I go. It’s just a simple sauteed Brussels sprouts, but the combination of seasonings that they use is exquisite!

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  • I liked the post and I haven’t heard about the vegetable trends before. Its really great. Mostly I used to make salads of different vegetables. I am not a good cook but yeah I am trying my hand in cooking also. I personally find vegetable more effective than fruits and also I find lots of nutrition in vegetables only.

  • Vegetables are hot? I am not sure. There is still the majority of American cannibal who contribute daily for those junk food burger chains to flourish and revenue growth.

  • I agree with “Veggie” above. I love the idea of veggies being “hot” but if this is a trend it’s still the trend for a select few. I have spotted some interesting veggie sides but I wish the veggies could move into the entree section too. I would love nothing more than to see people embracing veggies more.

  • How refreshing to think that vegetables are becoming a “trend”! I’ve long promoted that healthy eating doesn’t have to be rocket science – nor does it have to be boring or bland and this post definitely demonstrates that vegetables certainly can add a dash of excitement to our palate.

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  • Garima

    i’m from India and eating veggies is not a trend here…its more or less a lifestyle. Even the people who are non vegetarians do have vegetables on a regular basis. Even so the rates of chronic diseases (diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension etc.) have been escalating including childhood and teenage obesity, especially in the urban centres. Apart from the fast food giants like Mc Donald’s , KFC and Pizza hut opening their outlets here (which the locals are endorsing reverently), increasing stress, crowding and less physical activity all of which interacts with the thrifty genotype of indians are leading to this health load of chronic diseases.
    I also have doubts about the cooking practices.
    Can you give any insights as to what type of cooking practices are the healthiest and what foods should be avoided?

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