Nothing packs a memorable punch of flavor and aroma quite like the almighty allium. Thanks to their aromatic, sweet, earthy and pungent attributes, ingredients like garlic, onions, chives, leeks, scallions and shallots have been staples of cuisines around the world for centuries.
While alliums are often slow-cooked to impart flavor within braises, stews and soups, a look at global street foods reveals their importance as a starring ingredient. For example, scallions feature prominently in the fillings of cong you bing, flaky Chinese pancakes, as well as in Korean pajeon made with egg batter. The undeniable appeal of onion rings or a deep-fried onion bloom can be seen in Indian onion bhaji and pakoras, crispy seasoned snacks resembling fritters. And the “chili garlic” flavor profile, common in Southeast Asian cuisines, is up 51% on menus,1 found in stir-fries, chicken wings, shrimp entrées and noodle dishes.
Many of the up-and-coming sauces on Datassential’s Menu Adoption Cycle feature garlic-heavy flavor profiles.2 Lebanese toum, Italian gremolata, Cajun persillade, French pistou and Spanish romesco are making their way onto menus in both authentic applications and fusion dishes as sandwich spreads, burger toppings and dips. Even though these sauces aren’t yet household names, their familiar base flavors resonate with consumers looking to try a new twist on their favorite menu items.
But what sort of culinary innovation is ramping up in the allium world? One chef in Chicago (a city notably named for its abundance of wild leeks3) serves coal-roasted beets over black garlic tahini and baba ganoush with chives.4 A major burger chain recently used alliums to deliver a premium LTO experience, offering a burger topped with Gruyère, black truffle sauce and crispy shallots.5 Aged black garlic is gaining traction as an ingredient in butter sauces and aioli, adding a sweetly caramelized yet funky flavor to these umami-rich dishes.
As consumers look to support immune health through their food choices, garlic may grow even more popular among the mindful eating crowd. Allicin, the compound that gives raw garlic its distinctive aroma, has been found to reduce inflammation and offer antioxidant and antibacterial benefits.
ALL ABOUT Alliums
When it comes to cooking with alliums, do you know your scapes from your scallions? Take a look at our quick guide to fragrant, flavorful alliums—featuring key culinary attributes and signature menu applications for each. We hope it inspires you to serve up these exciting ingredients in a new way!
of consumers say
they like or love GARLIC.6
growth of PARMESAN-GARLIC SAUCE, making it the second fastest-growing pizza sauce on menus since 2017.7
growth of MAUI ONIONS
on midscale menus
over the past four years.8
GLOBALG.A.P. is a set of standards for “good agricultural practices” (G.A.P.) developed in cooperation with producers, retailers, and other stakeholders from across the food industry.
In fact, 95% of the garlic sourced by our parent company Griffith Foods is GLOBALG.A.P. certified. Today, over 200,000 producers in 134 countries are under GLOBALG.A.P. certification, with the goal of spreading responsible farming practices to ensure safe food for future generations.
WILD MUSHROOM RAGOUT WITH PECORINO POLENTA AND ARUGULA
SCALLION PANCAKE STREET TACOS WITH BEEF PHO GRAVY
NEW JERSEY-STYLE GARLIC BLUE CLAWS
CAULIFLOWER AND BEAN CHILI
SMOKEHOUSE BACON JAM BURGER
#GARLIC showcases a whopping 5.3 million tagged photos on Instagram, making it the most popular member of the allium family (at least on social media). Recipe images range from chicken wings to soups and sides. For a more artisanal approach, scroll through #blackgarlic, #garlicscapes or #rampseason and enjoy a bounty of culinary-driven content.9
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Self-proclaimed garlic-oholic Chef Michael Smith is no stranger to the allure of alliums, and in his latest blog post you’ll find stories of his favorite dishes that showcase these flavorful ingredients. If you agree with his sentiment that “more is more” when it comes to garlic, get inspired to add alliums to your menu repertoire!
1,7,8Datassential MenuTrends, U.S. menu penetration growth 2017-2021.
2Datassential, “Savory Sauces & Flavors: Menu Adoption Cycle,” 2021.
3Patty Wetli, “When it Comes to Ramps, There’s a Line Between ‘Foraging’ and ‘Poaching’ — And It's Often Crossed,” WTTW, May 12, 2021.
4“Flavor Takeaway: Puree Luxury,” Flavor & The Menu, March 3, 2020.
5Nancy Luna, “Shake Shack adds truffle burgers to menus in New York City and Southern California,” Nation’s Restaurant News, December 1, 2020.
6Datassential FLAVOR, 2021
9Instagram, #garlic accessed September 7, 2021.