Legumes have stood the test of time. And most recently, they’ve stood the test of a pandemic. Yet, legumes were already on the rise and gaining culinary momentum. With a bit of salt, a bit of time, and a flavorful broth to lend support, beans are transformed into something delightful. Often reserved for budget-conscious times and to stretch a pantry, legumes have emerged as an ingredient of choice rather than need. And we’re into it. We might even go so far to call legumes the perfect food for all the benefits they offer us.
Are found on 61.9% of all restaurant menus, and are one of the most broadly menued ingredient on plant-based menus according to Datassential. Black beans are the most popular bean on menus today.
are one of the fastest growing items on full service restaurant menus, growing more than 42% over the last two years, according to Technomic Ignite data.
Legume Menu Inspiration
Versatile, yes. Comforting, definitely. Satisfying, check. But the best part of legumes are their forgiveness. Swap chickpeas for cannellini beans in a signature hummus as you twist from the expected to something daring. Load up with hot sauce, garnish with a colorful pico de gallo, and serve with housemade tortilla chips. Use in place of pasta, offer as a plant-based burger alternative, or build a guest-choice bowl from the bottom up. As we head into winter, twists on the classic cassoulet and beds of heirloom beans are sure to appear.
With plant-based eating continuing to rise and a renewed focus on functional health, the move to legumes is perfectly timed. And by applying time-tested techniques, such as braising, fermenting, pickling, and curing, chefs can impart big flavor on the most humble of ingredients.
3 Bean Mega Trends
AS GROUND MEAT Lentils especially can be utilized to replicate the texture of ground meat in many applications, though other beans can also be utilized.
DIPS AND SAUCES Beans are a healthy swap to add creaminess to traditional dairy based sauces with less or no dairy. Variations on popular dips and spreads can experiment with unexpected varieties like a lentil hummus or buffalo chickpea.
HEIRLOOM As with all plants there are heirloom varieties of beans, lentils, and field peas. Heirloom varieties often have unique and robust flavor profiles. They can be more challenging to grow or may only be grown in one specific region.
The family of Legumes offer many choices: Adzuki beans, black beans, fava beans, and split peas, to name a few. All ready to add to classic recipes or to inspire new favorites, from appetizers to dessert (Outside of the U.S., beans are actually quite common in sweet applications). We have lots of recipes to instigate your next idea, such as this one for Shrimp Philomena and many others like it. With a quick keyword search or a scroll within categories, you’ll have access to all of them. While you’re at it, visit us on Instagram and Facebook to share your favorite legume recipes. We’ll do the same!
Chef Michael Smith showcases the versatility of legumes across the menu, highlighting both their nutritional value and exceptional flavor that can enliven everything from appetizers to desserts.
READ HIS BLOG
Datassential MenuTrends, accessed 1/5/23. US Chain and Independent restaurants % that offer...
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Datassential, The World of Plant Based, September 2022 Datassential,
Datassential, The World of Beans, February 2021
Technomic Ignite Menu, Q2 2020-Q2 2022