Pink foods are trending on menus, but they do more than just look good on the plate. This pink color is a sign of healthy antioxidants.
The pink trend is one of seven that Restaurant Business’ sister company, Technomic, predicted in a white paper on US trend released last week, “What to Expect for 2023.” According to Lizzy Freier, director of Menu Research & Insights at Technomic, “This happy, inviting color of food and drink also indicates antioxidant-rich health benefits in some cases.”
Health-focused smoothies, smoothies, and quick juices have pushed these benefits into pink-hued items like dragon fruit bowls and drinks, as well as strawberry-infused smoothies and raspberry puree. For guests seeking an antioxidant boost in a cocktail, sports bar chain Yard House even serves Pink Dragon Margarita, a blend of tequila, Grand Marnier, citrus cactus, pink dragon fruit and a black salt rim, which is served tableside with smoke billowing from a glass. .
But now more ingredients appear in shades of pink. For starters, look for pink variations on the classics, including pineapple, celery, and peas, Fryer said.
Pink pineapple has pink flesh that is juicier and sweeter than the more common yellow fruit. It appears in desserts, such as Pineapple Flan at Vaga Restaurant & Bar in Encinitas, California. It consists of caramel cake, charred pink pineapple, fermented pineapple tea, and caramel twill.
Pink-eyed peas, a unique take on the usual green and black, are paired with chicken at The Admiral in Asheville, North Carolina, where flying breast is served with pink peas, tomato broth, pickled habanada peppers, and spinach.
While pink salt has been a household staple for a while—pioneering chef David Burke tidyed the walls with blocks from the Himalayan variety for drying steaks—it’s more popular on cocktail edges, in sauces, and as the final seasoning. Birch & Rye, a Russian fine-dining restaurant in San Francisco, serves rye bread with home-grown semitana butter and fleur de sel pink flower. In fact, Birch & Rye has a penchant for pink across the menu, with pink borscht and sour pickled beets.
More esoteric pink foods, such as schisandra berries, cara cara oranges, and hibiscus-infused bissap, are also expected in 2023. Schisandra is a vegetable plant grown in China, Korea, and Siberia that is often brewed into tea or steeped in cold drinks. Tart berries are not only rich in antioxidants, they are also believed to reduce stress and fatigue.
Bissap is a juice made from the hibiscus plant, a variety of hibiscus. It is known as the “national drink of Senegal” and has a floral aroma and fresh citrus notes. This component is also mainly associated with drinks – not only in Senegalese cuisine, but also in Jamaica and Mexico.
Like the pink pineapple, the cara cara navel orange is pink rather than the typical orange associated with the fruit. It’s seedless, sweet, and rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that gives the fruit its pink color.
With post-pandemic consumers looking for foods that provide a nutritional boost along with insta-worthy photos, these berries, flowers, and fruits should increasingly find a place on the menu.
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