Summer season is heating up, and you can get ahead of the competition by planning your app menu now. Entice customers, see sales sizzle, and refresh menus with these tips for trendy summer starters.
Summer appetizers should feature light and fresh ingredients that complement the season. With the abundance of fresh produce, you can use them to accentuate your apps or as the stars of the show. Items like a grilled watermelon and feta salad topped with fresh basil are sure to cool off customers, while a grilled peach, burrata, and prosciutto crostini will get appetites geared up for the main event. And don’t be afraid to explore chilled soups such as gazpacho or light, protein-centered apps such as turkey lettuce wraps or chicken salad bites served in wonton cups, filled with summery ingredients and herbs to satiate hungry diners.
When guests visit a restaurant, they’re sharing an experience with friends, family, or loved ones. It’s an excellent opportunity to add shareable small plates to your appetizer menu. Comfort foods such as loaded nachos, cheesy Buffalo chicken sliders, or Roma® Eggplant Fries served with a spicy, creamy dip can be a hit with a large group. Charcuterie boards continue to trend, so consider plating whatever in-season fruits, veggies, and cheeses you already have in your pantry for customers to snack on.
The demand for plant-based dishes extends beyond main entrees. Health-conscious diners want to see options across the menu, and plant-based appetizers have grown by more than 80% in the past year. Marinate in-season veggies like summer squash, chayote, eggplant, bell peppers, and tomatoes, then grill them up for a show-stopping skewer app. Seasonal salads are always a safe bet but consider more unique options, such as squash blossoms, crispy chickpeas, or roasted okra with a spicy dipping sauce.
While the plant-based trend continues to blossom, fried apps will never fall out of favor. Fried pickles, mozzarella sticks, and other bar bites are cost-effective, and consumers usually expect to have several familiar favorites available. However, try adding a little flair to your fried foods. Fried green tomatoes make for a refreshing summer appetizer and are a fantastic way to highlight seasonal produce. This Southern delicacy can really shine when served crispy with a remoulade sauce or spicy aioli. Fried deviled eggs or Buffalo cauliflower wings can entice snackers to venture beyond their traditional picks.
Consumers are excited to try new and exciting flavors. And with most anxious to get out and travel, summer is the perfect time to take them on a culinary trip with your apps. Middle Eastern dip platters are one of the buzziest offerings right now.1 Consider a platter of tzatziki, toum, labneh, and beet moutabel, a spicy Lebanese eggplant dip, to serve as a twist on tradition.
A European getaway is often on the bucket list, so having a few classic but deeply flavorful options can be an instant culinary tour. Consider dishes like truffle butter arancini or serve Luigi® Medium Square Toasted Cheese Ravioli with your house marinara for a simple, yet delicious special.
1Datassential, The World of Appetizers; March 2023