With Christmas just weeks away, the seasonality, richness and abundance of fresh produce currently on offer is well worth taking a moment to consider. This enables chefs to get the most value from their produce, allowing effective planning of those extra special culinary experiences customers carry fond memories of into the New Year when healthy options become more in demand.
The humble sprout & other traditional fayre
At Williamson Foodservice, our fresh produce buyers have started to select Winter favourites like Brussels sprouts and cranberries to pomegranate and chestnuts for all your festive needs.
With sprouts likely to be as popular as ever for that all important traditional fare many customers are looking for, why not investigate or ask us about Kalettes? They are a more leafy cross between Kale and the humble sprout and are an intriguing product that can add an extra talking point with diners.
Whilst the quintessential cranberry is a must have festive accompaniment, they offer great versatility as they can be used in leftovers and healthier salads or cold plates whilst retaining that essential Christmas feel. Try them in pies or bakes too.
Keeping it colourful
Baby carrot or the more colourful Heritage carrot offers up seasonal selections that can be combined with other festive favourites like chestnuts (see above). These achieve delicious results that really differentiate Christmas menus.
Colourful and nutritious Red Kale brings a warm, cosy feel to the dinner table whether in hearty soups or winter salads.
Keeping it traditional, parsnips are plentiful and can be livened up with the addition of honey or maple syrup to give traditional Christmas dishes a sweet as well as savoury dimension.
Spices can also enliven parsnips in the right setting or dish.
Don’t be afraid to be different and keep an eye on healthy options
Don’t be afraid to embrace the unusual – Salsify (see left) is a strange looking wintry vegetable that is well worth a try. Whilst its rough and dirty initial appearance may deter some, its soft inner will wow guests with a very satisfying talking point long after the final diner has left to head home.
Another vegetable that struggles in the looks department is the Jerusalem Artichoke. However, these sweet and nutty vegetables can be prepared in a similar way to root veg. They are a worthy alternative to the humble potato.
We look overseas at this time of year for great tasting salad options. These include peppers, tomatoes and cucumber amongst others like Lollo Rosso and Oak Leaf.
These provide some relief from more traditional fayre and will be on many customers minds post Christmas as New Year and those healthy resolutions come onto the horizon.
Keep it punchy with citrus (and passion fruit!)
With health and a greater balance of food intake in mind for some, clementines, oranges and other citrus fruits come into their own around this time of year whether on their own as a ‘grab and go’ or in the form of enriching glazes in hams for example. Alternatively, they add to the general Christmas cheer as garnishes and flavour enhancers in the likes of mulled wine or in alcoholic and non or low alcohol drinks options. An abundance of lemons and limes add to the general festive cheer in bowls on bars, kitchens and dining rooms for their general versatility as well as in table decorations.
Pomegranate seeds needn’t be costly but (even used sparingly) dramatically add impact with their colour, vibrancy, flavour and texture. Their crunch really offers an extra dimension in the form of salads or slaws to sweet treats like cheesecakes or indeed savoury dishes like couscous. They really are very adaptable! Use passion fruit similarly and if cocktails (or mocktails) are your thing, they are a decorative and tasty treat in many a martini, spritz or punch (see opposite).
We can help – get in touch!
Whatever direction your Winter and Christmas planning takes you in, we hope this piece has given you some fresh ideas and inspiration.
Please do speak to us as early as possible regarding your menu planning so we can help make your festive period a successful one!
Call 0345 450 8888 or click www.williamsonfoodservice.co.uk for more information.