Trend Spotlight

Flavor-Packed Sides Take Inspiration from Across the World

Use a global staple to introduce exciting new flavors to a dining hall menu.

Volume 2, Issue 2 | June 2018

Arroz. Riso. Gohan. However you say it, rice is a staple all over the world. Why? It’s inexpensive, packed with nutrients, and keeps you full. It’s also a starch chameleon, picking up any combination of spices, herbs, and seasonings you throw into the mix.

Use this versatility to your advantage in the C&U arena! Today’s college students expect variety and are likely to try new flavors. U.S.-grown rice is the perfect canvas to showcase delicious international side dishes.

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C&U operators can easily spice up a dining hall menu by taking cues from the flavors of Thailand, Greece, India, Mexico, and other regions across the world. Incorporating international flavors into sides offers a cost-effective way to see which ethnic cuisines your diners gravitate toward, so you can serve up more in the future.

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Need some inspiration? These globally inspired sides take you way beyond your basic peas-and-carrots rice pilaf, and they all start with U.S.-grown rice. Plus, you can easily customize many of these dishes to accommodate special diets.

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Arroz a la Mexicana
Beef broth and cumin add depth to this plato de arroz, which gets its color from tomato paste. Try it as a component in a build-your-own taco or burrito bowl station. View recipe

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Greek Garden Rice Salad
Reserved oil from sun-dried tomatoes makes a savory dressing for this tangy side. Start with cooked rice and it comes together in just minutes. View recipe

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Creamy Parmesan Rice
Stirring at the end of cooking gives this decadent Italian-inspired rice a risotto-like texture, while pancetta and trumpet mushrooms amp up the richness. View recipe

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Green Bean Almond Rice
Classic pork chops are a tasty pairing for this side that combines butter-browned almonds, French-style green beans (haricot verts), and red pepper. View recipe

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Easy One Pot Mushroom Pilaf
Turmeric injects flavor and gorgeous color into this gluten-free, Indian-inspired pilaf that’s packed with veggies. View recipe

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Mango Tango Rice Salad
Fresh mango, orange-vinaigrette dressing, and cilantro brighten this healthy Caribbean-inspired dish, which would pair deliciously with jerk chicken or pork. View recipe

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Gingered Fried Rice
Swap out the chicken for tofu, beef, or pork in this endlessly versatile fried rice dish, which can easily double as a main. View recipe

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Wild & Brown Rice, Massaged Kale Salad
This recipe featuring grilled shrimp, basil and long grain white rice is easily adaptable to indoor foodservice grills. View recipe

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This geometric Japanese side uses three types of mushrooms: shiitake, brown button, and dried wood ear. View recipe

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Make It Work

  • Build a daily menu or pop-up stand around a specific type of cuisine, serving complementary mains, drinks, and desserts.
  • Position veggie-packed global sides as a filling, non-boring alternative to a side salad.
  • Make these dishes available as a side or full portion.

Want More?

Search our recipes by cuisine type for additional global inspiration.