Peanuts and Entertaining: Turning the heat up on winter

Spicy Chicken with PeanutsWith the cooler weather just around the corner, we’re sure to soon feel that first cool wind of autumn. It’s the perfect time to comfort diners with some extra warmth added to dishes.

Technomic’s “2015 Flavour Consumer Trend Report” found that spicing up menu items in foodservice is a trend with staying power. More than three-quarters of consumers say they enjoy moderately spicy food, while 55% crave spicy flavours, according to the report. Beyond the “spicy” moniker, consumers and restaurants alike are naming the peppers used in dishes, elevating the spice trend. Quick-service restaurants feature ghost pepper-topped fries, and it’s not uncommon to see habanero, serrano and poblano in menu descriptions beyond Mexican cuisine.

Not only do peanuts contain healthy fats and protein to keep you warm this winter, they are also easily incorporated into spicy dishes. Here are some tips to get you inspired, while satisfying your customers’ cravings for hot flavours:

  • Try peanuts for crunch – Like in this Spicy Chicken recipe, you can top hot dishes with peanuts to offer texture. Go simple with chopped peanuts, or adventurous by making a gremolata with our favourite legume.
  • Blend for richness – In sauces or stews, try peanut butter (or ground peanuts) to add body and a nutty undertone for complex, full-bodied flavours.
  • Get them snacking – Spiced peanuts are a great item for the bar, and the sky is the limit when it comes to flavour combinations. Let international inspiration guide your creativity, or go with classic sweet and spicy Cajun peanuts.
  • Tone it down for the timid – For Asian dishes in particular, you can tamper the spice with a helping of peanut butter.