Spring is in the air, and it smells like plant burgers, vegan cookies and calorie-conscious pizza.
First up: Pret. The chain’s new menu gets on board with this year’s colour scheme by introducing a smoked roast salmon salad with black rice. At the same time, it taps into the increasingly mainstream desire for Latin American meat with a beef and chimichurri baguette, while winking saucily at vegans with a dark chocolate and almond butter cookie.
Other new items include a buffalo mozzarella and pesto salad, and a protein box of chargrilled chicken breast, boiled eggs, avocado, long-stem broccoli, spinach, seeds and smoky chilli dressing.
For breakfast, the vegan mango and banana sunshine bowl includes coconut milk, granola, blueberries and turmeric, which continues to generate research studies investigating its positive effects.
Hannah Dolan, head of food development at Pret, said: “We’re thrilled to be launching a new range of salads and products this spring.
“I’m especially excited about the vegan cookie, which combines almond butter with dark chocolate and sea salt to make the perfect afternoon treat. We’re also introducing several new ingredients to our menu for the first time, such as black rice and ancho chilli.” (When we spoke to Wahaca’s Thomasina Miers, she noted that ancho was on the rise, and how right she was!)
Leon has put out its version of arguably the most talked about food item of 2018 so far: the plant-based burger. Its version is made of edamame, ginger, lemongrass and chilli, served with tamarind ketchup, spinach and spicy pickled carrots – and you can get it with a gluten-free bun option too.
The healthy brand is also adding ‘meatballs’ made of aubergine, black olive and rosemary, served with tomato sauce, vegan aioli, seeds and fresh herbs. For the non-veggies, kale chicken Caesar salad has been updated with a honey mustard dressing, Italian cheese and fresh herbs.
It’s less about the veg and more about the calories at Ask Italian, which is now serving up ‘prima light’ pizzas bases, which use less dough and have fewer calories.
The coppa ham and egg, pollo piccante con pancetta, and caprina with soft goat’s cheese pizzas are all under 550 calories and served with a rainbow salad.
Ask also has a new spring special pea and prosciutto risotto with asparagus and baby watercress. And for dessert: a lemon tart served with blood-orange drizzle and vanilla gelato; and the white chocolate swirl, a chocolate and almond mousse with pistachios, strawberries and blood orange sauce. Way to cater for both the trend for health and the anti-trend for indulgence.
Reporting by MCA, foodservice trends specialist and Food Spark’s sister service.