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Power Up with Proteins!: Page 2 of 6

Catering chefs weigh in on their favorite protein-packed dishes (and share their recipes, too)

Innovation Chef Jenna Johansen, Epicurean Group, Centennial, CO


Quinoa (dry) // 100 grams = 14 g protein

“We love to serve this quinoa vegetable cake as a year-round protein alternative to meat,” says Innovation Chef Jenna Johansen. “These cakes are bound with puréed cauliflower to give them great flavor and also keep them vegan. The potato starch is our secret ingredient to act as binder while keeping the cakes gluten free.” For every event, the chef stresses, Epicurean Group offers vegan and gluten free options for guests with food allergies, sensitivities, or special diets. The items are low in fat, high in fiber and nutrients, and feature a limited number of allergen triggers.

Served as a protein replacement on a salad, over crisp broccoli greens and kale, or with roasted cauliflower, wilted greens, and tomato sauce (as shown in the photo), this dish hits on all cylinders. Chef Johansen also suggests finishing the cakes with a vegan cashew cream in place of a dairy-based sauce.

“Long gone are the days where caterers can offer a grilled portobella mushroom and expect clients to be excited about it,” says Johansen. “Here in Colorado, we are one of the ‘thinnest’ states in the nation. Our clients have high expectations of healthful food that is readily available, and they expect it to be interesting and delicious.”

Quinoa vegetable cakes
Yield: 100 cakes (50 portions)

2 gals. quinoa, cooked
1 gal. cauliflower purée
(note below, all vegetables are dry measure)
1 qt. broccoli slaw, julienned
½ qt zucchini, julienned
½ qt yellow squash, julienned
½ qt yellow onion, julienned
½ qt red bell pepper, seeded & julienned
1 qt spinach, sautéed
1 qt potato starch
¼ cup garlic, fresh, minced
4 Tbsp arrow root
1 cup agave
1 tsp paprika (smoked)

1. Cook quinoa according to package directions
2. Steam cauliflower until soft. Purée until smooth and cool.
3. Sauté broccoli slaw, zucchini, squash, peppers, and onions with garlic until al dente. Place aside in a refrigerator to cool.
4. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
5. Adjust consistency with potato starch (may need more depending upon how wet the cauliflower is)
6. Season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste
7. Mold using #10 (3 oz) scoop and metal ring
8. Freeze individually
9. To serve, sear from frozen, allow to thaw, then heat in oven to internal temperature of 165˚.


Vegan cashew cream

2 cups water                                                             
2½ cups cashews, roasted and salted                   
2 lemons, zest                                               
1 tsp lemon juice                                                      
Kosher salt to taste

1. Soak the cashews in cold water for a minimum of 6 hours or overnight. 
2. Drain and rinse. 
3. Mix all ingredients in a food processor until thick and smooth.
4. Adjust the seasoning, if necessary, and, if the mix is too thick, thin the cream with a little bit of cold water.