Sponsored by Bush's Best
From sandwiches to handheld pies, every cuisine has its own version of bread, fillings and condiments. Everyone’s favorite portable food is available in a variety of customizable versions, with endless combinations of ingredients. Among the elements that are gaining in popularity are plant-based and plant-forward items to satisfy consumer demand for healthful, environmentally friendly foods. Global flavors are also on-trend right now as consumers seek to experiment with different spices, sauces and preparations.
According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2022 What’s Hot Culinary Trends Report, chefs from the American Culinary Federation said the top three global food trends are Southeast Asian (Vietnamese, Singaporean, Philippine), South American (Argentinian, Brazilian, Chilean), and Caribbean (Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican).
In addition, the chefs rated what they think will be the hottest food trends overall, and ranked sustainability, plant-based foods, comfort foods, healthy and immunity-boosting foods, and global fare and flavors as the top trends.
Foodservice operators have an opportunity to incorporate the current global flavor trends and the plant-based trend into innovative, delicious sandwiches.
Driving Vietnamese sandwiches
According to The New York Times, one emerging foodservice trend is drive-thru Vietnamese restaurants. While the drive-thru format is likely a result of pandemic-related adaptations that many restaurants made over the past two years, one Vietnamese menu item seems especially well-suited for portability. Banh mi, a Vietnamese sandwich made with a crusty baguette and filled with meats and pickled vegetables, can be made in a plant-forward way with nutritious and versatile beans. For example, this Veggie Meatball Banh Mi recipe features Bush’s Best® Bean Pot® Vegetarian Baked Beans, quinoa, garlic, basil, and other ingredients to make the “meatballs,” which are served in French bread rolls with pickled daikon and carrots.
While drive-thru is not an element in noncommercial foodservice, the trend points to another important factor—portability. Students have always needed snacks and meals that they can take with them, and over the past few years many K-12 schools and colleges and universities have increased their grab-and-go offerings. Sandwiches, especially those made with colorful, fresh ingredients, offer visual appeal with takeout convenience.
From gochujang to kimchi, Korean flavors are popular these days. Korean sandwiches that are gaining popularity include gilgeori or street toast, which is a scrambled egg sandwich, and fried chicken sandwiches, which exploded in popularity along with Korean barbecue.
Another crowd pleaser is bao buns, made with steamed, fluffy bread rolls. Bao buns typically contain pork, but beans can fill in to satisfy consumer demand for plant-based protein. Sweet Chili Bao Buns feature Bush’s Best® Easy Entrées® Texas Ranchero® Pinto Beans, sweet chili sauce and pickled vegetables.
Other global sandwich variations can be offered as plant-based versions. Japanese Katsu Sando, or fried pork sandwiches, can be made with fried, breaded eggplant or tofu. Hand-held pastries, which are available in different variants around the world, are another example of sandwich diversity. There are Asian spring rolls, Latin empanadas and Jamaican-styled iterations such as Reggae Falls Hand Pies made with Bush’s Best® Easy Entrées® Texas Ranchero® Pinto Beans, cremini mushrooms, sweet yellow onions, and Jamaican spices.
Global mashups are always popular. Consumers, especially Gen Z, like to combine flavors, and sandwiches are the perfect vehicle for this. It’s easy to vary the use of different breads, such as bagels, brioche or white toast. Or let global flavors, like Thai , inspired with peanuts or lemongrass, or other Asian-inspired toppings that include ginger, garlic, soy and cilantro. Tacos and burritos are also good vehicles for culinary fusion mashups. They can be made with Korean barbecue and kimchi or beans and other plant-based ingredients instead of meat. Black bean patties, which are arguably burgers but still sandwich-like, can be topped with gochujang mayo and green onions.
Part of sandwiches’ appeal is that they are customizable. Operators can vary the spice levels—such as with gochujang, a hot and sweet red chili paste, or Sriracha (a ubiquitous hot sauce). Be sure to offer plant-based variations, as even non-vegetarians enjoy having a meatless option. Beans, which are high in fiber and protein, can fill the demand for a plant-based ingredient in meals and snacks.
For more information and recipes, visit https://bushbeansfoodservice.com/.