As springtime nears, leftover winter ingredients need to be weeded out before spring menus can bloom. Utilizing this inventory to craft creative spring dishes can cut costs and help shape your LTO menu.

When your pantry and freezers are brimming with leftover inventory, the last thing you want to do is throw it out. Not only does this hurt your bottom line, but it’s also not sustainable. By using leftover winter ingredients to create a sustainable spring menu, restaurants can not only reduce their environmental impact but also save money and appeal to conscious consumers.

A Squeeze of Citrus

Spring is all about light and bright flavors. Take winter fruits like blood oranges, Cara Cara oranges, or grapefruit and pair with romaine or escarole for a bright salad, and then utilize the juice for a light vinaigrette. Or pair grapefruit with Peak Fresh Produce® Red Peppers to turn into a relish for grilled oysters or mahi-mahi. And we can’t forget about the power of the lemon. Harness the bright and tart taste of lemons and incorporate it into the rest of the menu with a lemon drop martini for a new cocktail LTO, pair it with ricotta and serve over crostini for a tasty app, and use it to make a fresh lemon meringue tart for your dessert menu.

Pickle Plan

Fermented foods are trending, and pickles are popping up in everything from cocktails to dips, fruits, and more. Preserve winter ingredients like radishes and onions by pickling to use in the spring to add tangy and flavorful elements to dishes like omelets and sandwiches. Or pickle persimmons to add to a veggie salad, a flavor bomb for chicken salad, or for a unique tart cocktail to add to spring happy hour menus.

Rabbit Food

You can bridge the gap between winter and spring with carrots, which can be roasted or grilled and served with a creamy tahini sauce, fresh dill, and parsley for a lighter appetizer. If you’re seeing peas already, put the two together in a composed plate with brown butter and mint. Or use all the parts of the plant to stretch your dollars and repurpose ingredients that would normally get tossed. Take turnips and beets and incorporate them into herbed sauces, or take a winter veggie like fennel, chop it up, and mix with Greek yogurt, lemon, and olive oil for a bright and light sauce for fish.

Good Eggs

Spring chickens might not be laying just yet, but eggs have a way of signaling spring even though they’re abundant year-round. Deviled egg apps are always a hit with guests. Put your own spin on it with beet-pickled eggs or wasabi deviled eggs for a surprise kick. Create a hearty spring breakfast scramble by using leftover winter root veggies and roasting them to mix with the eggs. Or boil and toss into a potato salad or to add a little protein to your house salad.

Winter Protein Power

By using up leftover winter proteins, you can create tasty appetizers, sandwiches, and more to add to springtime menus. Take braised lamb or pork to create savory meatballs to pair with spring veggies like asparagus and fava beans. Or use leftover roast beef for sliders, smoked turkey for soups or wraps, and roasted chicken for stuffed bell peppers or pair with BBQ sauce and throw on a flatbread pizza.

Herb is the Word

Fresh, leafy green herbs like parsley, dill, mint, and chives brighten up just about any dish. Consider transforming an item on your winter menu by plating it differently and serving it with a zippy herb-packed vinaigrette or aioli. Take Peak Fresh Produce® Basil, Swiss chard, and pine nuts to create a pesto for a spring pasta sauce, spread for a grilled chicken panini, or dip for grilled veggies.

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