Menus of Change: Reimagining Plant Forward with Chef John McConnell

As part of the 2017 Menus of Change Leadership Summit, the Almond Board of California partnered with Executive Chef John McConnell, Clif Family Winery, and the Culinary Institute of America to showcase the versatility and visual appeal of almonds in plant-based cooking.

In each of Chef McConnell’s recipes, almonds in their many forms are partnered with some of his favorite ingredients to create plant-forward, flavorful dishes that are sure to inspire. Each of the unique concepts showcase California Almonds, as they add great texture and visual appeal to any dish, and offer unlimited variations on texture

Check out Chef McConnell’s five demonstration videos and recipes below to try out his innovative and nutritious take on cooking with almonds. 


Carrots “Almandine” with Yoghurt and Dill

Crispy almonds lend their signature texture to warm, roasted carrots atop a cool yoghurt base. Recipe available here


Cuban Style "Arroz Con Frijoles" with Mojo and Crispy Plantains

Almonds play a new role as “beans’ in this classic Cuban dish. Slow-cooked almonds become soft and tender, and filled with sofrito flavor. Recipe available here


Heirloom Tomato Brulee with Almond-Miso Butter and Shiso

Sweet tomatoes and salty-sweet almond-miso butter are torched until crispy, then topped with shiso and sliced almonds for a soft and crunchy contrast. Recipe available here


Smoky Eggplant Baba Ghanoush with Almond Dukkah and EVOO

Almond dukkah tastes delicious sprinkled atop most foods; here, it kicks up the spices in smoky, smooth eggplant baba ghanoush. Recipe available here 


Almond Cake with Almond Butter Frosting, Apricots and Toasted Almond Slices

A modern take on classic almond desserts, fluffy light almond cake is topped with a sweet, smooth almond butter frosting and complementing apricot slides. Recipe available here 

Menus of Change, hosted by The Culinary Institute of America and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, works to realize a long-term, practical vision that integrates optimal nutrition, public health and environmental responsibility with culinary inspiration for the foodservice industry. Menus of Change has established a compelling new agenda for the foodservice industry through an annual leadership summit at the Culinary Institute of America’s Hyde Park campus in New York. Now in its fifth year, the initiative aims to create a world-class network of collaboration among America’s most talented chefs, nutrition and agricultural and environmental scientists. 

Learn more about the Principles of Healthy, Sustainable Menus that guides Menus of Change and its guidance for the foodservice industry, developed with findings from nutritional and environmental science, and trends in consumer preferences. Visit for more information on the initiative.