Almost 10 million people in the US are vegetarians. With so many potential customers, it’s no surprise that vegetarian restaurants are popular. Even people who aren’t full-time vegetarians love the delicious and nutritious food that many vegetarian restaurants serve.
While the right chef and fresh ingredients are two important factors in those delicious and nutritious meals, the right tools are also important. One of the right tools is often a meat grinder, which may surprise new vegetarian chefs and patrons.
Despite the presence of meat in the name “meat grinder,” this piece of equipment can work on many other ingredients. We provide a list of eight examples below of how vegetarian restaurants make use of meat grinders.
Grind Alternative Proteins for Meatless Patties
Every restaurant has a different recipe for veggie burgers and other types of meatless patties. However, two of the favorite ingredients of many restaurants are the same: beans and lentils. While you can cook and mash these main ingredients by hand, you’ll get a finer product with a grinder. The finer bean and lentil mash will be easier to mix with other ingredients, such as vegetables and herbs. Many people also find it easier to form patties with a finer bean and lentil base. Plus, when your customers dig into a fine-ground patty, they’ll get a better illusion of a meat patty. Everyone wins!
Grind Potatoes for Gnocchi
Most restaurants make gnocchi from a combination of mashed potatoes, flour, and eggs. They boil the potatoes before mashing them for the gnocchi base. However, we’ve all tried mashed potatoes that have surprising lumps inside. Those lumps can delay gnocchi production, which is why a grinder is such a great alternative to mashing. Run the boiled potatoes through the grinder, and the machine creates perfect potato pieces. Mixing the flour and eggs into these small, soft pieces is a dream, and soon you’ll have gnocchi ready to go. After you boil and drain it, you’ll serve these delightful gnocchi to even more delighted customers.
Grind Fruit for Fresh Jam
Grinders aren’t just for main dishes like patties and pasta. You can also use your grinder to create delicious fresh jams when you grind fruit. The process is more involved than throwing fruits in the grinder since you’ll need to wash them first. If you want to make a jam with a fruit that has pits, such as peaches or cherries, you’ll need to remove those pits first. Once your fruit is clean and pitted, you can run it through the grinder. Toss the fruit with sugar and lemon juice, then leave it for a few hours to macerate. Cook the macerated mixture before canning, and you’ll be able to serve your customers fresh jam whenever you want.
Grind Bread for Delicious Breadcrumbs
Store-bought breadcrumbs are easy to store and cook with, but they’ll taste better if you make them yourself. Use store-bought bread or bread you made yourself. The process is as simple as dying the bread out in the oven and then running it through the grinder. You can season the bread before you oven-dry it or wait to do so later. If you want extra crispy breadcrumbs, you can fry or rebake them when they come out of the grinder. This is another opportunity to add flavor with seasonings. Some restaurants leave their breadcrumbs unseasoned, though, so that they are more versatile. The choice is yours!
Grind Cheese for Easy Mixing and Sprinkling
Shredding hard cheese can feel like it takes forever. Save your restaurant staff the time and hassle by letting them use a meat grinder instead. While soft cheese could clog some grinders, hard cheese will come out of the grinder perfectly shredded and ready for the next step of the recipe. You can mix this freshly ground cheese into whatever dish is waiting for it, from classic mac and cheese to savory muffins. Or you can sprinkle it onto salads, soups, and many other dishes.
Grind Nuts for Deeper Flavor
Nuts add delicious, rich flavor to both sweet and savory dishes. Grinding them up makes them an easy addition to many of your vegetarian recipes. While you can grind some nuts raw, toasting them first is often best. Toasting the nuts can prevent them from losing too much oil during the grinding process. We also find that toasting helps deepen the nutty flavor. Try to run the toasted nuts through the grinder quickly, as some oil will still come out and could make the ground nuts act more like a paste. You can always toast the ground nuts a second time to manage extra oil or moisture.
Grind Vegetables for Stuffing or Sauces
Many restaurants—not just vegetarian ones—use finely chopped vegetables in stuffings and sauces. But your restaurant probably uses them more than a restaurant that serves meat since you replace traditional meaty stuffings or sauces with veggie ones. While you can simply finely chop these alternatives, a grinder is a much better option. You’ll get a finer product that’s easier to stuff inside pasta, mix into a creamy sauce, or add to savory bread. There’s almost no limit to what vegetables can safely go through a grinder, so the only restriction is your chef’s imagination!
Grind Cooked Chickpeas for Falafel
One of the most popular ways vegetarian restaurants make use of meat grinders is making falafel. Putting cooked chickpeas through a grinder is a great way to create the perfect base for falafel. If you don’t want to use cooked chickpeas, you can soak dried chickpeas in water overnight to soften them. Once they’re soft, run them through the grinder like the cooked version. You can then mix in all the classic falafel ingredients, such as chopped onion and herbs and spices, into the ground chickpeas before forming your patties. Bake or fry your falafel for the perfect crunchy outside and smooth inside.
If your vegetarian restaurant doesn’t own a meat grinder, now you know all the reasons you might need one. Pro Restaurant Equipment offers commercial food grinders in various sizes so you can bring this versatile piece of equipment into your kitchen. Once you start grinding your food, you’ll never go back!