Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

Big-Flavor Vegetables Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar | based in Huntington Beach, Calif.


“Over the past couple of years, I’ve been developing more and more vegetable-based small plates to meet the increasing demand from our guests,” says Gabriel Caliendo, VP of R&D/Corporate Executive Chef for Lazy Dog restaurants. Recent examples include: Fire-Roasted Asparagus with poached egg and bacon; Spicy Edamame Beans with Japanese togarashi seasoning; and Baby Kale & Hazelnuts with roasted Brussels sprouts in housemade honey mustard. “It’s been really fun working different flavors and concepts to fill this need,” he says.  The newest addition to the lineup is the plainly named Roasted Vegetables, which belies the complexity of flavor.

“The overall concept is based on the flavors you might find in a curry dish,” says Caliendo. Cauliflower, carrots, onions and red peppers are seasoned and roasted in a 500-degree oven to char and soften. À la minute preparation is done in high-heat woks, tossing the vegetables with ginger and garlic. “Then we add our housemade coconut-curry sauce, which is seasoned with traditional curry spices that we toast in house,” he adds. “We cook the vegetables until the sauce is absorbed, creating a full-flavored vegetable that is not watery.” The dish is finished with golden raisins, “which balance the warming spices and give a surprising slight sweetness to every other bite,” a drizzle of sesame oil and crispy chickpeas which bring texture as well as a creamy, nutty flavor. It’s served in a small cast-iron skillet with a spoon for sharing.

“This has been very well received and is a perfect example of how we like to give our guests what they want, but do it in a way that is hard to find anywhere else,” says Caliendo. “With the success of this dish, I’ve cross-utilized the sauce into another dish that has also seen great success: Sesame-Crusted Ahi with cauliflower mash, micro cilantro and coconut-curry sauce.”

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