Innovators: Lorenzo Boni, Executive Chef, Barilla America

With pasta such an important part of the Kids’ Menu mix – as detailed in the Trending Now section – our chefs at Barilla are called upon often to help our customers with their kids menu offerings. As a dad himself, Executive Chef Lorenzo Boni brings a personal perspective to the task as well.  

Stealth_Health_Mac_n_CheeseTell us about this “Stealth Health” Mac n’ Cheese concept.

Basically it’s meant to look and taste a lot like the popular boxed mac and cheeses that kids are familiar with. But everything about it is better! The bright orange color comes from butternut squash and carrots, with also contributes to the creamy texture of the sauce. We also used a bit of Yukon gold potatoes to balance the flavor, and mostly for creaminess, as their starch blends right into the sauce. A blend of parmesan and cheddar gives you the cheesiness. And of course the elbows are Barilla – you can use whole grain, Protein+™, or veggie elbows for added nutrition. We were really pleased with how it looked and tasted.

Wow, there’s a lot in there! What’s NOT in the sauce?

Because of the pureed veggies, there’s no butter and no cream, and only ½ cup of milk in a full batch. Taking out the fat does wonders for the calorie count.

What about your experience as a dad helped you with this recipe?

I know from my own picky eater that how something looks is probably more important than how it tastes. If you don’t get that right, you’re really fighting uphill to get kids to try something healthier. Using pasta always helps – I don’t know any kids who don’t love pasta!