Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

 

 

 

By Rob Corliss
October 31, 2021

 

Semi-firm cheeses that can maintain their integrity under direct heat, such as halloumi, paneer and provoleta, offer menu developers the chance to deliver new taste experiences. When grilled, griddled or broiled, these cheeses become even more alluring, with a crisp outer char encasing a softer interior. An ideal vehicle for flavor, grilling cheese lends a heightened crave factor to a wide variety of dishes. Here, we zero in on six menu categories where today’s trending grilling cheeses find a comfortable home while contributing added value in mouthfeel, appearance and intrigue.

1 Appetizers

Cheese-centric starters and small bites entice diners drawn to their silky, decadent goodness. Amplify the attraction by introducing new and unexpected cheese experiences
beyond the pull.

Hot Honey Holiday Cheese: A thick slice of griddled Greek manouri cheese (semi-soft goat and sheep’s milk cheese similar to feta) drizzled with hot honey and topped with pomegranate arils and toasted pine nuts; paired with baguette crisps

Chili-Cheese Toast: A slice of toasted brioche topped with a grilled slice of provoleta cheese (Argentinian version of provolone) and a spoonful of three-bean chili

2 Soups

Soups are a comfort-food mainstay. Add a touch of sophistication with a grilling cheese to upsell the dish, enhance its presentation and enrich its flavor story.

Tortilla Supreme Soup: Brothy cilantro-spiked tortilla soup brimming with roasted chicken, topped with griddled chunks of queso panela sprinkled with sazón

Golden Lentil Soup: A vibrant Madras curried red lentil, butternut squash and gingered-carrot soup, topped with griddled chunks of paneer cheese and red pepper flakes

3 Sides

Grilling cheese—used as both a flavoring agent and as a textural contrast—adds dimension to elevate common vegetables
and starches.

Cheese-Spiked Green Beans: Blanched green beans tossed with griddled cubes of paneer cheese and chile crisp

Cheesy Barbecue Potatoes: Grilled strips of halloumi cheese and roasted wedges of sweet potatoes tossed in smoked barbecue rub seasoning plus a touch of pomegranate molasses

4 Salads

A premium cheese pairs well with other higher-quality ingredients showcased in modern salads. Use grilling cheese as a flavor driver and star ingredient callout.

Grilled Halloumi Bowl: Slices of grilled halloumi cheese top a tossed salad of shaved fennel and Brussels sprouts, Israeli couscous, walnuts, dried cranberries and parsley/mint, with a lemon-Dijon dressing

Tangy Italian Salad: Baby arugula topped with griddled chunks of Caciocavallo Ragusano cheese (a Sicilian cow’s milk cheese), charred banana peppers, black olives, crispy prosciutto shavings, mini arancini and a blood orange vinaigrette

5 Tacos

Swapping in grilling cheese for the quick melt of shredded cheese adds unexpected texture and high visual contrast to tacos. Entice cheese-lovers by positioning the grilling cheese as a leading menu descriptor.

Big Cheese Red Taco: Two soft corn tortillas topped with a grilled wedge
of queso panela and whole, seasoned black beans, all caramelized in tomato-chorizo consommé, folded and griddled red-golden

Chicken and “Fried” Cheese Taco: Soft flour tortilla topped with fajita-style chicken/peppers/onions and a griddled wedge of adobo-seasoned queso panela

6 Breakfast

Cheese and eggs paired together is a match made in breakfast heaven. Introduce an intriguing grilling cheese and you have entered a new level of food nirvana.

Heck of a Halloumi Skillet Frittata: Whisked eggs placed in a small cast iron skillet, topped with halloumi cheese slices and broiled to golden, soft perfection, finished with breakfast sausage gravy and sliced scallions

Greek Goddess Sandwich: A grilled slab of Greek manouri cheese topped with a fried egg and schmear of maple-smashed-roasted garlic cloves piled on a flaky croissant

 

About The Author

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Rob Corliss is a three-time James Beard House guest chef with more than 30 years of experience that includes running world-class hotels, launching new concepts, working in top marketing agencies and, currently, owning a consulting company, ATE (All Things Epicurean), focused on flavor, menu and restaurant innovation. Based in Nixa, Mo., he has an energizing passion for food and is dedicated to connecting people to their food, environment and wellness. [email protected]