Trending Now: Starchy Sides that People Love

by Swipely Team on September, 10 2013 in Operations


It’s that time of the year when humidity is exchanged for the smell of fall. Daylight hours started getting shorter back on June 22nd after the Summer Solstice and as the colder weather heads to certain parts of the county, many diners are exposed to seasonal favorites. If you live in New England, that means that just about everything will be made with apples or pumpkins and we'll devour it all in bliss.

Others start preparing for the oncoming chill by adding some more starchy foods to their diets. We’ve already shared trending spirits and appetizers for those of you who want to add some popular items to your menus, so lets get into starches.

As many of you might realize, starch is the most common carbohydrate in the human diet and the starch-iest foods include rice, corn (even though it's technically a vegetable), potatoes and wheat.  Recent research has been telling us that some of these might not be so good for us, so new alternatives have gotten popular. New favorites make up the following list of trending starches and more complex carb alternatives that may provide you with some additional options for side dishes.

1. Non-wheat noodles/pasta

I once lived with a roommate who would turn squash and zucchini into pasta. She would place the vegetable into a spiral slicer and crank out lovely lines of veggie pasta.

Many restaurants are now offering non-wheat pasta to provide a gluten-free option. Cambridge, Massachusetts' Rialto is one such restaurant that makes their gluten-free pasta from scratch, and serves it with peppers, eggplant and chickpeas.

A Boston Globe article from April features a section with Jody Adams, chef and owners of Rialto, who discussed creating the gluten-free pasta with a special KitchenAid machine. This way, all pasta created with this machine remains gluten-less.

2. Black/forbidden rice

Black rice, also known as forbidden rice, is a deep black color when uncooked and a deep purple color after being cooked. Its dark color is due to theanthocyanin content, which also serves as powerful antioxidants. Like brown rice, forbidden rice has a mild nutty flavor.

Some restaurants are using forbidden rice because of its unique coloring. It easily makes a dish look unique, particularly while paired with colorful vegetables. St Francis Restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona offers a Forbidden Rice Bowl, which consists of seven vegetables, ginger, garlic, and sweet and spicy dressing. Chicken or shrimp can be added to the dish for an additional fee.

3. Quinoa

Quinoa is a grain-like crop that’s harvested for its edible seeds. Interestingly enough, quinoa is not a true grain or cereal; it’s a chenopod more closely related to plants like spinach, tumbleweeds or beetroots.

Much of quinoa’s recent attention has been due to its superfood tendencies; it’s considered a complete protein, a good source of calcium and is gluten-free.

The Haymarket Café in Northampton, MA has a great quinoa salad with roasted eggplant, lima beans, Zante currants, pine nuts, and fresh mint. This delightful creation is served with tomato-rubbed sourdough bread and hummus on the side.

4. Pickled vegetables

This might be my favorite. If you want a sweet or tangy enhancement to vegetables, you can always take the pickled route. And if you decide to do this, you’ll have some guests that absolutely love it!

Pickled vegetables are trending now and it goes beyond homemade pickled cucumbers – or you know, pickles. Some restaurants are using their house selection of vinegar, sea salt, and any other special ingredients, to create an assortment of pickled vegetables.

The Pickle Jar Kitchen in Falmouth, Massachusetts offers pickled vegetables in a variety of plates, and serves them by the pound, too. The pickled options include cucumbers, carrots, jalapenos, red onions or mushrooms.

Have you included any of these trending starches to your menu? Are you now considering any of them after reading this article? Please share your starch-heavy stories with us!

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