From grilled cheese to green bean casserole; pot roast to pizza—comfort food dishes appeal to the child in all of us. These feel-good favorites are a source of consumer delight on every menu, and the comfort food category is a great place to introduce signature flavors that differentiate your offerings from the competition. In this issue, we’ll examine some spins on comfort food classics, with tips for using fruit in condiments, batters, salsas and more.
When you hear the term “comfort food,” what comes to mind? In the U.S., comfort food is synonymous with fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, casseroles, gravy, meatloaf, pot pie, chili—the list goes on. These dishes offer up a taste of nostalgia and homestyle appeal, with a focus on irresistible rich, creamy, buttery and/or fried flavors. But just because the category often evokes a “retro” feel doesn’t mean your comfort food menu items need to feel old-fashioned. For example, enlivening classic dishes with housemade condiments and other premium ingredient touches can bring them into the modern era. Regional barbecue, a perennial comfort classic, continues to dominate menus across the country. Playing off this popularity, operators can serve up succulent grilled short ribs with an unexpected twist, such as a blackberry barbecue sauce that balances sweet and savory flavors.
At breakfast, elevate a standard sausage, egg and cheese sandwich with a crisp hash brown patty and strawberry chutney for a dynamic combination of comforting flavors. The global comfort food category represents an exciting area for menu innovation, as well. Dishes such as Georgian khachapuri (bread boats stuffed with molten cheese and a runny egg), English pasty (baked, stuffed hand pies) or Indian vada pav (seasoned potato fritter served on a bun) range from shareable appetizers, to entrées, to grab-and-go snacks. Though the dishes themselves might not be completely familiar to American patrons, these items and other international dishes feature a mix of exciting ingredients as well as recognizable flavors and textures that create a more universal comfort food experience.
DOLE CHEF-READY PRODUCTS PUT A FRUIT-FORWARD TWIST ON WELL-KNOWN COMFORT FOODS. CREATE A FAMILY-STYLE MEAL INSPIRED BY CLASSIC DISHES—WATCH OUR LATEST VIDEO! VISIT DOLEFOODSERVICE.COM/COMFORT-FOODS
The game-day classic takes on a sweet twist with the addition of candied bacon, DOLE Chef-Ready Cuts Diced Peaches and a drizzle of DOLE Chef-Ready Peach Frozen Purée. Try them on breakfast/brunch menus too!
From breakfast through dessert, comfort food adds a taste of home to any dining experience. These recipes, featuring DOLE fruit, are inspired by consumer favorites— with a signature twist to enliven your menu offerings.
Lighter and brighter than a chicken-fried steak, our version is served with a cool pineapple, tomato and bell pepper salsa featuring DOLE Chef-Ready Cuts Pineapple Cubes.
This mouthwatering skillet dessert showcases blackberries two ways: juicy frozen DOLE Blackberries are folded into the batter and DOLE Chef-Ready Blackberry Frozen Purée is whisked into crème fraîche for additional flavor and color.
For a colorful, tropical twist on your standard pizza offerings, top with broiled BBQ chicken strips, DOLE Pineapple Tidbits, roasted red pepper, mozzarella and parsley.
Hearty comfort food dishes can be found across chain restaurant menus. Dishes that incorporate fruit showcase everything from appealing sweet-meats-savory flavors to seasonal appeal.
STRAWBERRY PINEAPPLE MILKSHAKE: chopped pineapple and strawberries spun together in vanilla soft serve ice cream
HAWAIIAN PORK EGG ROLLS: luau pork, pepper jack cheese, peppers, onions, grilled pineapple-mango salsa and sriracha ranch
PEACH SUPREME PIE: creamy vanilla crème supreme filling, topped with sweet peaches and real whipped cream in a flaky pie crust.
APPLE CIDER BBQ CHICKEN BREAST: grilled chicken breast seasoned with smoky Southern spice, topped with apple cider BBQ sauce and a fresh Gala apple and dried cranberry chutney
Comfort foods tend to be associated with happy memories, and that connection truly shapes the flavor perception of a dish. Try these tips to elevate the comfort food experience for your guests!
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NOTHING BETTER THAN BAKING. What’s more familiar than the joyful simplicity of freshly baked goods? Serve up cobblers filled with DOLE Fruit to warm up even the coldest days, and top with sauces or crème fraiche made with DOLE Chef-Ready Frozen Fruit Purées.
ELIMINATE THE CLEANUP. Let your customers dig into fun and hearty appetizers with their hands— no utensils needed! Dipping sauces featuring DOLE Chef-Ready Frozen Fruit Purées add a sweet touch to wings, tots and more.
DON’T MAKE IT COMPLICATED. Some of the most comforting dishes can be made with as few as five ingredients. Consider simple beverages that take your guests back to their favorite vacation spot—like piña coladas made with DOLE Pineapple Juice—or colorful fruit salsas that complement the flavors of fried foods.
ENJOY IT WHILE IT’S HOT. Remember the “hot food, hot plate” rule, because the temperature of a dish plays a huge role in your guest’s enjoyment. The smell of a freshly prepared dish is essential to its flavor experience. Aromatics are more active in hot food so be sure to keep them as such!
I want to see your take on comfort foods! Upload photos on social media and be sure to tag @dolefoodservice and #askfordole
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These versatile purées are made with quality fruit, ideal for creating consistent, memorable sauces, beverages and desserts.
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1,3 - Technomic, “Consumer Insights Planning Program: Snacking Occasion Opportunities,” September 2018.
2,4 - Datassential MenuTrends, U.S. menu penetration growth 2015-2019.
Shelly Whitehead, “Now trending: Diners embracing comfort foods, still open to trying new things,” Fast Casual April 12, 2019.
Technomic, “Consumer Insights Planning Program: Snacking Occasion Opportunities,” September 2018.