Planning a plant-based meal
1. Select the category of your dish. Is it a roast, soup or stew, or multi-component main dish?
2. Choose your anchor vegetables. What’s in season?
3. Consider how it can be prepared and choose your cooking method.
4. Plan your spices and seasonings around your choices.
5. Add balance from a nutritional perspective. Can you combine foods to provide a complete protein?
6. Enhance your plating, with complementary colours, shapes, flavours, and textures.
Add appeal to plants
Use interesting textures to intrigue the senses. Try roasting vegetables for a crispy feel, or oven-dry them to concentrate the flavours, increasing the “meaty” texture. You can also combine vegetables with raw nuts and seeds to provide varying levels of crunchiness.
Try unusual spice and flavour combinations
This is a good way to complement or accent the flavours of the produce.
For example, nutmeg is good with root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, and pumpkins. Cumin and coriander go well with sweet vegetables like beets. And mustard complements cabbage, broccoli, sprouts, and kale. Smoking or grilling fruits and vegetables can also enhance their flavour profile.
Experiment with the form of the dish
Just by slicing vegetables differently, you can create a different experience. Try serving a portabello mushroom as a “steak”, slice cucumber or zucchini into ribbons and serve in place of pasta, or use a ricer on cooked cauliflower. You can even cook carrots and puree them into a foam or blend with pulses for hummus.
Make room on the menu
It’s a good idea to integrate vegan and vegetarian dishes with the rest of the menu. This draws more attention to your plant-based recipes and avoids creating a stigma around non-meat dishes. Make sure your descriptions are just as craveable as the rest of the menu, and these dishes may become some of your guests’ new favourites.