As your restaurant prepares for its fall menu, take advantage of any excess inventory you have from the summer. Since seasonal menus can bump sales up by a sizable percentage, reduce costs by using that inventory to create a transitional menu full of comfort foods and heartier dishes.
As we say goodbye to summer, consider these suggestions on how to turn summer ingredients into fall favorites:
If you happen to have an assortment of surplus inventory, consider a charcuterie board appetizer. Slice up any excess vegetables like carrots, radishes, peppers, and cucumbers and serve with fall-inspired flavors, such as fig jam or apple butter. Use any cheese you may have, perhaps cheddar or blue cheese, and intermingle a cranberry-infused cheese or a fig and almond cheese.
Combine nuts like almonds and walnuts with pumpkin seeds or spiced pecans. As you add in your leftover apples, grapes, and pears, mix in cranberries, persimmons, or dates. Consider dark chocolate or pretzel rods with a ganache dip for dessert. Pair a pinot noir or a robust cabernet with your selections to boost your margins.
Typically, on summer menus, apples are used as part of a fruit tray or as dessert. In fall, however, apples play a major role in the flavor profile. Set off grilled burgers by topping them with caramelized onions, melted Brie cheese, and a drizzle of apple or fig compote for a harvest burger.
Or jazz up a margherita pizza with thin apple slices and caramelized onions. A more substantial meal could include a beer-braised bratwurst by simmering bratwurst in a rich beer-based broth and serving it with a side of mashed potatoes.
Introduce fall flavors with a refreshing celery and apple salad featuring walnut vinaigrette. Enhance traditional coleslaw with celery slaw, mixing in apples and cranberries. Or warm things up with a comforting pot pie filled with tender chicken, celery, and a creamy sauce encased in a flaky crust.
If your pantry has an abundance of tomatoes, there is no shortage of options. Add flavor to your fall menu with an eggplant and tomato stew to wow guests. Combine a spicy tomato sauce with eggs and chorizo for huevos rancheros. Even surprise guests with an Italian tomato pie—served as an entrée or a dessert!
Stuffed bell peppers with items like quinoa and spinach are great for making the switch from lighter summer fare to heartier dishes. Introduce a bell pepper and lentil stew to warm guests as the temperatures drop. Or create brunch buzz with a bell pepper and goat cheese tart encased in flaky pastry.
Corn the Cob
Corn is one of the most flavorful and versatile vegetables and can be used year-round. For fall, make Parmesan and herb corn by brushing corn with garlic herb butter and sprinkling it with grated Parmesan cheese.
Liven up your side menu with chili-spiced corn on the cob by slathering chili-lime butter on corn and dusting it with chili powder and smoked paprika. A fall prix fixe menu could feature maple pecan corn on the cob by drizzling warm maple syrup over the corn and topping with chopped toasted pecans.