Greetings from the Barilla Test Kitchen! We love the trend we’re seeing in 2020 toward more Eastern Mediterranean flavors on the menu. Not only are these flavors delicious, different, and exciting for American diners, they make great pairings with pasta, and especially the plant-forward dishes that are so in demand these days. Here are a few flavor combinations that I’ve experimented with and found work really well.
Preserved lemon is one of my favorite Eastern Med flavors. Using a little bit for acidity in an otherwise rich pasta dish, like cacio e pepe, adds some color and a bright pop of flavor.
Za’atar is one of the most versatile spice blends in the Middle Eastern pantry because it’s got it all: herbs, seeds, toasted nuts, and sumac for acidity. It can take a simple roasted vegetable pasta dish to new heights; simply finish with great olive oil and Parmigiano cheese.
Charmoula, much like zhug, is a really nice condiment that brings loads of bright, fresh, green flavors to food. Traditionally, it’s served with fish or chicken, but those flavor qualities, blended into a creamy chermoula alfredo or a basic marinara sauce, kick it up one thousand flavor levels.
Muhammara, the pepper and walnut spread from the Levant, is ultimately a red pepper pesto. With a bit of pasta water and your cheese of choice, you have a versatile and approachable pasta sauce. Paired with our new chickpea or lentil pasta, you’d even have a gluten-free option.
Here are a few of my favorite recipes where Barilla® pasta meets Eastern Med flavors:
Yury Krasilovsky, Foodservice Executive Chef, Barilla America