Trending Now: Veg-Centric

Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the trend of Veg-Centric cuisine. As trends guru Chef Gerry Ludwig puts it, it’s about “leaving behind the either-or mentality about vegetarian foods, and putting produce at the center of the plate.” Chefs are treating veggies with the same care and respect (not to mention cooking techniques) once reserved for animal proteins, and taking them to the next level; with meat elements in the reduced role of condiments and flavor enhancers.
It’s no wonder this is taking off. Mainstream consumers have been seeking “feel good” cuisine for several years – menu items that have healthful cues like whole grains, ample veggies or antibiotic free meats, but still have craveability. And veg-centric dishes also carry a very real “good for the planet” sensibility to the plate, as eating less meat is widely recognized as better for the environment.
Our friends at Barilla are all-in on this trend! It’s in keeping with their goal of helping US consumers adopt a more Mediterranean lifestyle, where more produce and good grains take the place of oversized portions of animal proteins. One thing we’re all excited about is how often Italian ingredients and preparations are serving in the star or supporting role. There’s just a natural affinity for Italian ingredients and flavors and vegetable centricity.

Even if a dish isn’t entirely veg, it can still shine by promoting the veggie component as prominently as the protein.

These are some of our favorite protein “adds” happening in veg-centric cuisine today:

  • Bagna Cauda
  • Prosciutto
  • ‘Nduja
  • Lardo
  • Salami & Sopressata
  • Pancetta

 Here are a few examples of veg-centric pasta dishes with these top protein “adds:”

Creamy Bagna Cauda and Crunchy Vegetables Over Pasta (Barilla)

Ditalini Pasta Salad with ‘Nduja and Octopus (Barilla)

Alabama Pecan-Smoked Pesto Orecchiette by Jeffrey Compton (Chef’s Roll)