Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

Global Hits with Turkey: Eastern Mediterranean Tap into trending global flavors while staying in your guests’ comfort zone

Cardamom and harissa give roasted turkey authentic shawarma flavor inspired by Middle Eastern cuisine. Click here for recipe
PHOTO CREDIT: Butterball Foodservice


Chefs today are embracing the bold and beautiful flavors and dishes coming out of the Eastern Mediterranean—from dukkah and s’chug to muhamarra and sumac. The challenge for operators is finding the right balance between exciting and polarizing—serving up trending flavors without intimidating guests. Consumers are intrigued by flavors coming out of Turkey, Israel, Lebanon and Syria, such as harissa and turmeric for example, but need a familiar anchor to help cushion that global adventure. Familiar formats—like sandwiches, tacos and bowl builds—are smart pathways here, providing a platform for safe culinary adventure.

Today, one of the hottest dishes that’s ripe for translation on American menus is shawarma, a spit-roasted, richly seasoned meat that’s often tucked into a soft, warm flatbread. Highly craveable, it’s also highly translatable—a perfect combination for menus today. Flatbreads are another one of the Eastern Med’s biggest superstars. Whether puffy and doughy or crisp and thin, the fascination with this part of the world’s culinary traditions is bringing flatbreads to the table—wood-grilled or baked, served with shareables or as familiar-yet-global handheld carriers.

Not only can turkey help anchor the dish in a familiar protein, 61 percent of consumers surveyed said they would be more likely to order a turkey dish if it were labeled Butterball.
Butterball Proprietary Consumer Research, 2017

We turned to Butterball Foodservice for a menu item that not only calls for Eastern Med flavors, but is served within the friendly confines of a familiar and loved protein. They came back to us with a creative Turkey Shawarma served on grilled pita. “Turkey acts as a great carrier for the big flavors of shawarma in this recipe while giving guests a wholesome and beloved protein,” says Heather Ness, Foodservice Marketing Manager at Butterball. Turkey breast is marinated in rich, bold flavors, like harissa, cardamom, cinnamon, allspice, coriander and cumin. Lemon juice and lemon zest add bright acidity. The turkey is then grilled and sliced and tucked into the pita, topped with a zesty tzatziki, caramelized onion and red cabbage slaw. It leverages the trending flavors of the Eastern Med while delivering a protein-heavy, wholesome and familiar dish.

3 Easy Ways to Ease into Shawarma

Temper the bold flavors and exotic name with a familiar format. Rely on turkey to carry those big flavors beautifully—all while providing a lean, classic American protein.

1. Shawarma in a Taco
Turkey shawarma + tahini crema + pickled cauliflower + sumac onions

2. Shawarma Loaded Fries
Turkey shawarma + creamy garlic ranch + tabbouleh + cumin-scented onions

3. Shawarma Breakfast Hash
Turkey shawarma + baked eggs + smoked yogurt sauce + harissa-glazed roasted potatoes

Dive Deeper into Eastern Med

Visit these recipes for more Eastern Med inspiration:

Mediterranean Turkey Burgers

Grilled Sesame Turkey Kebab

Mediterranean Turkey Tempters

For more great ideas, visit ButterballFoodservice.com


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