Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

Veg-Forward Pasta Look beyond pasta primavera for standout pasta dishes that pull in the red-hot veg-centric trend

The pasta platform is an easy venue to show off veg-centric menu moves.

Veg-centricity is one of those overarching trends that will impact foodservice for years to come. Like small plates or all-day snacking, it’s actually changing menu development in meaningful, long-standing ways. And it’s spreading into many different parts of the menu.

Pasta holds big opportunity here, presenting itself as a capable carrier for thoughtfully prepared, well-flavored vegetables. “The opportunity today is pretty special,” says Kara Nielsen, VP of trends and marketing at CCD Helmsman, a food and beverage consulting agency based in Emeryville, Calif. “It’s using the pasta as a canvas that’s malleable and variable, inviting bold combinations. The challenge today is around surprising and delighting younger consumers. Modern takes on pasta are a smart path to that goal.”

Bad Hunter, a New American eatery in Chicago that’s centered around produce, menus a great example of a modern pasta dish starring vegetables: Green Garlic & Nettle Lasagnette with morel mushrooms, English peas and black truffle fonduta.

More evidence is found at The Progress in San Francisco with its Stinging Nettle & Ricotto Ravioli. “Tapping into the veg-centric trend with pasta shows your customer that a lot of care went into the dish, using premium ingredients and expert cookery,” says Nielsen. “The result is visually stunning dishes that are perfect for this Instagram world we live in.”

Menu Sightings

  • Wild Mushroom Ravioli with grilled asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes
    —Nix Restaurant, New York
  • Carrot Cavatelli, carrot-top pesto, candied walnuts, guanciale, Pecorino
    —The Antler Room, Kansas City, Mo.
  • Housemade Spaghetti Carbonara with smoked mushrooms and spring onion
    —Avant Garden, New York

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