With plants increasingly taking up more real estate on the dinner plate, it makes sense that they’re starting to move into the territory of the dessert menu, as well. Diners who opt for a veg-forward meal are increasingly seeking post-prandial nibbles that support their love of a plant-centered diet.
A recent Nielson study, We Are What We Eat, concludes that today’s consumers aspire to better health and look for fresh, natural and minimally processed foods. In fact, 39 percent of respondents plan to buy more vegetables in the next six months. As a result, chefs are rethinking dessert for today’s health-conscious consumers by incorporating more veggies. Far from a fad, it’s a trend that’s likely to continue to grow in scope and size.
While fruit, with its natural sweetness and familiarity, has long been a reliable mainstay for desserts, many veggies are beginning to pop up in puddings, pies, ice creams, cakes and more. Beets, corn, zucchini and eggplant have been making appearances, often in vegan-friendly offerings that please everyone at the table – from the diner who just finished a massive rib eye steak to the friend who picked away at a plate of steamed sprouts and beans.
If this all seems a little strange, remember that plenty of your customers already love things like carrot cake and zucchini bread. To get started with your venture into veggie baked goods, you might want to start with beets, which are a great pairing with chocolate. You can also experiment with veg like parsnips, too. If your diners tend to be a little more adventurous, take a chance on ingredients like eggplant or celery, both of which can offer up natural sweetness and interesting texture with the right prep and recipe.
Ice is nice
One easy way to try out a vegetable-centric dessert menu is by making homemade ice cream featuring produce that’s readily available this summer. Think sweet corn, tomatoes and cucumber, and you’ll be on the right track. Easy to make ahead and store in your freezer, veggie ice creams can be just the right finish to a light summer meal.
On Your Plate talks to chefs about Reimagining Dessert