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Recipe Friday: Irresistible Vegetables

Plant-based dishes are exploding in popularity, making up the top three fastest-growing dishes, according to Unilever Food Solutions' Future Menus Report.

With a little creativity, vegetables can actually be surprisingly versatile ingredients—and not just as a side dish as diners are used to, but as the real star of the plate. 

Diners across the globe are now experiencing different takes on plant-based dishes through the ingenuity of chefs. 

Simple techniques such as grilling and sautéing are great ways to intensify flavor, but charring, smoking or pickling bring a whole new dimension to vegetables, allowing them to really shine. Modern techniques can elevate vegetables to outshine their traditional meat counterparts, while allowing your creativity to come to life.

By using techniques like glazing and roasting, charring, or frying, you can create crave-worthy appeal for both meat eaters and vegetarians alike.

Cooking with vegetables allows you to experiment with highlighting some of nature's most simple ingredients, a challenge every chef loves. Indulgent vegetable-based versions of classic meat dishes are one way to elevate these humble ingredients, and totally transforming vegetables to take on new textures and flavors is another art.

Bringing this trend to life is all about intensifying flavors of vegetables and pairing them with supporting ingredients that keep these dishes exciting and vibrant.

Check out these recipes from the Future Menus Report. 

Charred Sriracha Tofu and Vegetables 

Recipe courtesy Brandon Collins

Yield: 4-6

Ingredients for Tofu Marinade

1 lb firm tofu cut into 6 equal slabs
½ cup grape seed oil
2 T sriracha
1 tsp Knorr® Professional Liquid Concentrated Vegetable Base
1 T granulated sugar
1 T fresh chopped parsley
1 T Korean chili powder
1 T minced garlic

Ingredients for Vegetables

6-10 ea. whole or split young carrots ¼ lengthwise
1 ea. zucchini
6-8 ea. cremini mushrooms

Ingredients for Dipping Sauce

1½ cup Hellmann’s® Vegan Mayo
1 T Korean chili powder
2 T lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Sub or add in any grillable vegetables you like!
  2. Rub marinade on tofu and let sit 30 minutes to 24 hours in the fridge.
  3. Rub leftover marinade on vegetables and allow to marinate for 30 minutes to 24 hours.
  4. Grill all and arrange in a nice manner, making sure to get some nice char and grill marks on all. 
Chef tip: You can change the entire profile of the dish by swapping just a few of the seasonings such as: ancho, chipotle chili powder, and cilantro to give it a Hispanic flair.

Lobsterand Shimeji Mushroom Arepas 

Recipe courtesy JC Lopategui

Yield: 4


1 lb lobster mushrooms, sautéed
½ lb shimeji mushrooms, sautéed
1½ cups prepared masa harina (arepa mix just water/salt)
1 ea. avocado, sliced
1 cup aged white cheddar

Ingredients for Avocado Crema

1 ea. avocado
½ cup Hellmann’s® Vegan Mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup cilantro
½ tsp agave light syrup
1 tsp cayenne pepper 


  1. Using a vita mix, combine all the sauce ingredients and blend for about 1 minute. Place in a squeeze bottle and refrigerate.
  2. Prepare arepa mix according to masa harina pan procedures.
  3. Divide the 1½ cups of prepared masa into 4 parts and form into arepa shape. (Round ball, then flattened with wet hands so it’s a bit easier to maneuver.)
  4. Preheat a large nonstick pan and cook arepas in a low/medium fire, until light golden color. (Finish arepas in a Josper oven or any open fire for extra flavor and texture.)
  5. Open arepas using a paring knife ¾ of the way around and stuff with cheese, mushrooms, and avocado slices.
  6. Drizzle some sauce inside the cavity as well and continue with desired presentation. 

Chef tip: You can easily use these ingredients and transform this dish into a taco by swapping tortillas for the Masa dough since the mushrooms give hearty meaty texture

Charred Vegetable Pancit

Recipe courtesy Rudy Smith

Yield: 4


1 pkg rice noodles (Bihon) soaked
1 ea. carrot
1 ea. stalk celery
4 oz green beans
4 oz cabbage
Oil as needed
6 cups prepared Knorr® Professional Liquid Concentrated Vegetable Base
2 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp onion powder
1-2 T soy sauce


  1. Char all the vegetables very well on a hot grill.
  2. Julienne the carrots, shred the cabbage, slice the beans on a bias about 1 inch long, and slice the celery on the bias.
  3. In a hot wok, sauté the vegetables briefly. Remove most of them and reserve.
  4. Add prepared Knorr base and garlic, onion, Knorr Caldo, and soy sauce.
  5. Bring to a boil.
  6. Add drained noodles and bring back to a boil.
  7. Stirring constantly, cook until the liquid has been absorbed and the noodles are tender.
  8. Add to a platter and top with remaining vegetables.


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