With summer over and the back-to-school season fading, restaurants fall menus have kicked into high gear. Once again, the autumn presents foodservice providers with a host of fruits, vegetables, and spices that are the hallmark of this pre-Winter period. Whether you are a caterer, restaurateur, run a coffee shop, pizza store, or even a smoothie stand, now is the time to cash in on the bounty and indulge your customers with seasonal favorites and new fall-inspired recipes.
Fall Produce Flourishing
The abundance of fresh produce available at affordable prices is reason enough for chefs to get excited as they conjure up their next Instagram-worthy pièce de résistance to attract consumers and entice the masses to sample their wares.
For fall fruit-based dishes and desserts, think sliced apples, pears, figs, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, and cherries. For colorful vegetables, think sweet potatoes, cabbage, eggplant, butternut squash and other winter squashes (i.e., acorn squash, banana squash, buttercup squash, carnival squash, kabocha, hubbard squash, honeynut squash, spaghetti squash). Feature them in or alongside hearty one-pot casseroles, chili, stews, and savory soups that hit the spot as the first low temperatures hit the air.
Fall’s Star Ingredient: Pumpkin
As you update your restaurant’s 2021 fall menu, be sure to highlight what has been deemed the season’s star ingredient: Pumpkin! No restaurant menu is complete without it, so think pumpkin everything as you pamper your customers’ palates with pumpkin-flavored pies and desserts, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin coffees, pumpkin soups, and even pumpkin ravioli and risotto.
Hungry for more? Here’s a fun food fact to feed your customers: October 12th is National Pumpkin Pie Day!
October Food Celebrations
If you’re looking for new fall menu ideas combined with opportunities for restaurant marketing strategies, take advantage of the slew of national and international food celebration days that occur during the month of October. Here is a taste of what October has to offer:
- October is National Pizza Month
- October 1st is World Vegetarian Day
- October 13th is the National Peanut Festival
- October 14th is National Dessert Day
- October 15th National Mushroom Day
- October 16th is National World Food Day, dedicated to fighting global hunger
- October 16th is also National Liquor Day
- October 17th is National Pasta Day
- October 18th is Chocolate Cupcake Day
- October 22nd is National Nut Day
- October 27th is American Beer Day
- October 28th is National Chocolate Day
- October 29th is National Oatmeal Day, featuring what has become one of America’s preferred breakfast foods
- October 31st is National Caramel Apple Day. Advertise on social media and invite diners to come and enjoy apples dipped in hot caramel and other toppings
Finally, here are some rather unusual October food occasions, apparently appealing to some of the masses…:
- October 9th is International Moldy Cheese Day
- October 8th is…National Fluffernutter Day. Invented in the early 1900s, a fluffernutter is a sandwich made with white bread, melted marshmallows, and peanut butter.
Fall Fruit Compote
Life doesn’t get any sweeter or more flavorful than when serving simple fruit compote to your customers. Fresh, saucy, and ready to serve in less than 30 minutes, compote is made from pieces of fresh or frozen fruit mixed with sugar or other sweeteners, resulting in a delicious textured fruit sauce/chunky fruit syrup with cross-demographical appeal. With or without added sugar, compote gets its sweetness from the fruits that you add. You may want to go all-natural by substituting sugar with maple syrup or honey or use sugar substitutes to appeal to your specific demographics.
And here’s some great news for caterers and restaurateurs! There are countless ways to feature compote on your fall menu. Serve alongside or on top of yogurt, pancakes, French toast, cake, cheesecake, cream cheese, oatmeal, cheese, and crackers. For a particularly decadent dessert, experiment with recipes for strawberry compote served with vanilla ice cream, chopped nuts, strawberry liquor, and/or whipped cream.
How to Prepare Fruit Compote
Update your 2021 restaurant fall menu with this recipe:
- In a medium saucepan, combine selected fruit slices or chunks with your choice of sweetener and a dash of salt.
- Boil the mixture over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Reduce heat to medium.
- Optional: For a smoother result, mash chunky fruits with a fork or potato masher until it reaches the desired consistency.
- Stirring often, simmer mixture until the compote has condensed half of its original volume.
- Remove from the heat and cool before serving.
- For additional flavor, enhance mixture with lemon or orange zest, lemon or orange juice, 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, 1/4 tsp. ginger or cinnamon, fresh basil leaves, fresh mint, and/or ground black pepper added to taste after cooking.
Note: Covered and refrigerated, compote can be stored for up to 10 days.
Pear Fun Facts
If you want your eatery to stand out from the competitive crowd, shine a new light on pears, another seasonal specialty that is teeming with flavor and one-of-a-kind recipe ideas.
First, did you know that there are more than 3,000 varieties of pears worldwide and that the United States is one of the largest producers of pears across the globe?
Did you know that remarkably, the Buddha pear is a dead ringer for a Buddha statue, identical down to its minute facial features? Stirring the pot even more, swallow this fun food fact: The most expensive pear varieties in the world sell for over $9.00 each!
With a history dating back to 1000 B.C., when they were known as ‘butter fruit’ due to their butter-like soft texture, pears are low in calories, fat free, and the perfect fall ingredient to add to your restaurant’s repertoire. Let your customers know that unlike many other fruits, pears have a particularly low acid level, which means they don’t cause stomach upsets! In fact, the ancient Greeks consumed pears to prevent nausea. In China, interestingly, the pear is called “li” and considered to be a symbol of immortality.
Finally, check out this must-have recipe featuring a divine combination of warm pears, ginger, molasses, and spices…
Upside-Down Pear Ginger Spice Cake
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1 tbsp. water
- 2 peeled, cored, and sliced pears
- 1-1/2 cups flour
- 1 tsp. ginger
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup butter
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- In microwave safe bowl, combine the first four ingredients and microwave until butter melts
- Stir and pour into a 9" × 13" baking pan
- Arrange sliced pears on top of the brown sugar mixture
- In a small bowl combine flour, baking soda, and spices, and set aside
- In another bowl, beat together 1/3 cup butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and the egg
- Gradually stir in the flour mixture as well as the molasses and buttermilk
- Pour batter evenly over pears
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a knife in cake’s center comes out clean
- Cool for 5 minutes, then flip onto a serving platter
- Serve warm or cool
- Bon Appétit!
Fall Menu Wrap Up
Just like pumpkin, no restaurant fall menu is complete without some amazing squash recipes. With the gamut of winter squashes available, here is yet another dish to add to your customers’ soon-to-be menu favorites.
Butternut Squash Soup
- Preheat oven to 400º.
- On a large baking sheet, toss butternut squash and potatoes with 2 tbsp. oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
- Roast until tender, 25 minutes.
- In a large pot at medium heat, melt butter and remaining olive oil. Add onion, remaining vegetables cooking until soft (7-10 minutes). Season generously with salt, pepper, and thyme.
- Add squash and potatoes and pour in chicken broth. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Insert immersion blender and blend until creamy.
- Garnish with thyme, serve, and enjoy!