An infomercial-friendly kitchen gadget seems an unlikely hero for school foodservice operations. Spiral-cutting mandolines, which turn almost any vegetable into looping, noodle-like strands, are already popular with carb-conscious diners. But now you can bring this versatile gadget into the foodservice kitchen to whip up creative new uses for vegetables that any kid would eat.
Here are some ways you can transform ordinary vegetables into bright colored loops and swirls that even veggie-phobic kids will try.
Jazz Up Salad Bar Offerings
Vegetable-centric dishes will be one of the year’s biggest trends, according to the Specialty Food Association’s 2016 Trend Watch. Salads are already the quintessential vegetable-forward offerings, but now you can add spiral-cut toppings and garnishes to make them really stand out.
A spiral-cutting mandoline can transform dowdy long-storage vegetables – carrots, rutabagas, even red or golden beets – into innovative and attention getting additions to salads. Try stocking your salad bar with locally grown, seasonal veggies cut into spirals to entice kids to put more on their plates.
Replace Pasta with Spiralized Veggies
The original use for these mandolines was replacing pasta in traditional dishes to create healthier meals. Aside from their visual appeal, spiral-cut vegetables take up a lot of space in a bowl, and give the appearance of a gratifyingly generous portion. Top with marinara sauce and meatballs for a healthy twist on a classic that kids will love. more on their plates.
Tips for Success
- You can spiral-cut most vegetables, from summer squash to thick broccoli stems, so start by evaluating those you already stock for other menu items. If your salad bar contains cauliflower florets, for example, you might reserve the snowy-white heart of each head and spiral-cut it.
- Nuts and seeds complement the sweetness and crunch of the spiral vegetables, so use them freely.
- Think in terms of color and contrast. Use pale almonds, green pumpkin seeds or even scarlet pomegranate seeds to complement the vegetables underneath.
- Lean toward light, tangy dressings, ideally vinaigrettes. Root vegetables are usually turned into slaws and doused in mayonnaise-based dressings, but dressing them instead with a vinaigrette allows their flavors – and colors – to remain front and center.