Spring Fling

Fall in love with spring colour on your menu through spices, vegetables, global flavours, and spring desserts. Here’s how to wake up your plates as the seasons turn. Celebrate the delight of the warmer months and tempt your guests with brighter and lighter choices.

Delicious dessert dayparts

According to Technomic, 57% of Canadian consumers indulge in dessert at least once a week and across all dayparts.

“While consumers eat dessert throughout the day, their need states differ by daypart,” explains Anne Mills, manager of consumer insights. “Smaller, handheld desserts such as cookies and doughnuts will appeal for daytime snacks or lunch add-ons, while indulgent varieties such as cake or pie appeal more strongly later in the day. Healthier options such as muffins, smoothies and fruit resonate for desserts eaten as meal replacements.”

Think bright, think fresh

Tossed crisp salads with an abundance of spring vegetables like asparagus, red radishes, shaved fennel and watercress will brighten up your menu. “Use herbs like dill, cilantro or parsley to add a fresh spring element to any dish,” says Juriaan Snellen, McCormick Canada’s executive corporate chef.

“Spring is the season for lighter fare, fluffy frittatas topped with green asparagus, snipped chives and a touch of lemon pepper,” Snellen adds. Edible flowers are becoming more popular and they bring colour to the plate and add a unique peppery note.

spring fling 2

Fall in love with spring colour on your menu through spices, vegetables, global flavours, and spring desserts.

Celebrating the stalk

When he thinks of spring menus, John Placko thinks first of asparagus. The culinary director of Modern Culinary Academy says the short window of opportunity for wonderfully fresh asparagus makes it all the more precious and delightful. You could even create an asparagus menu, he suggests.

  • Start with an appetizer of steamed asparagus with a gremolata of parsley, lemon zest, garlic and olive oil – a nice way to let the vegetable shine.
  • Craft a cream of asparagus soup by using the spears as well as all the trimmings and top it with chopped fresh mint and a drizzle of Tabasco spiked sour cream.
  • Create a salad with asparagus cooked al dente and then chilled and topped with a drizzle of sriracha mayo, sliced green onion and smoked salt that brings this dish to life.

“As a side with warm asparagus, a soft poached egg and shaved Parmesan cheese with cracked black pepper is a nice way to enjoy asparagus. A baked flatbread with Alfredo sauce, asparagus, sliced cooked potato, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. And even as a sorbet between courses.”

Put some spring in your soups

Lighter, broth-based soups like lemon chicken and rice or a spicy Thai pea soup go well with the season, Snellen says. Spring is the best time to enjoy succulent lamb seasoned with rosemary, thyme and green peppercorns paired with fresh peas, mint and a refreshing Middle Eastern labneh made from strained yogurt.

Light, fruity, colourful desserts

Rhubarb in pies, jams or paired with a touch of honey as a side dish brings a sour tart element to the table. Fresh fruits paired with egg white meringue and tangy sorbets are good options for spring desserts, Snellen says.

“Make spring desserts light, fruity and colourful,” John Placko suggests. “An Eton Mess is a perfect choice. Take crumbled meringue, whipped cream, fresh strawberries and add a twist on a classic with passionfruit sauce. Mix the meringue with whipped cream, layer a tall glass with multiple levels of strawberries, passion fruit sauce and the meringue/cream mix.”

Mindful consumption

We’re starting to see more interest and availability of food that feeds both mind and body, Chef Juriaan notes. “This holistic approach to mindful consumption while shaking off some excess weight put on over the colder months and holiday season is very popular in the springtime. Chilled artisanal tonics that promote gut health or a rebalancing cocktail of ginger, turmeric, pineapple and dandelions offered as a digestive will give your menus a spring makeover.”

How sweet it is!

  • Only 51% of consumers eat dessert at the same restaurant where they eat their meal.
  • Desserts are more likely to influence younger than older diners’ restaurant choices.
  • 3 in 10 (31%) consumers and 37% of women say they’d be more likely to order dessert if a mini-portioned option were available.

Sources: Technomic’s 2017 Canadian Ethnic Food & Beverage CTRE Menu and Technomic’s latest desserts report