Greetings from the Barilla Test Kitchen!

As a chef team, we got together with our editor to talk about some of the trend predictions we’ve been seeing, and where we thought they might take us in the year to come.

Q: How might you develop a pasta dish for wellness or immunity?

Chef Yury: There are lots of common ingredients that chefs probably already have on hand for pasta cooking that lend themselves to this. Garlic, dark greens & mushrooms are a great place to start, and are delicious together!

Chef Lorenzo: I think pestos are a great platform for this – what about a pesto with turmeric, walnuts and kale? Fresh herbs are generally good for immunity, and garlic and olive oil are good for this too. The combinations of herbs or greens, aromatics and nuts are endless, and in pesto form are quite approachable.

Chef Yury: I recently did a pasta salad for a healthcare event with rotini pasta, crunchy puffed rice, ginger-cilantro dressing, arugula, sweet tomatoes, quinoa, farro, wheat berries. The pasta adds a satisfying and familiar element, and the combination of whole grains and naturally healthy ingredients is delicious.

I think there’s something worth exploring in the pre- and pro-biotic space too – what about using some kefir or yogurt where you might use cream? Combine that with dark greens and you’re on to something!

Q: There’s been a lot of talk about umami for the coming year. What are the ways you like to boost umami in your pasta cooking?

Chef Lorenzo: Italian food is nearly always umami rich. Aged cheeses, cured meats, mushrooms, tomatoes…these are our staples, and they’re all loaded with umami! The Italian cheese category has a lot of options to turn to here – yes, a long-aged 36-month Parmigiano for sure, but also all the pecorinos, granas, gorgonzolas and even the longer-aged soft cheeses like tallegio.

Chef Yury: Dried mushrooms like porcini or morel are always a great way to give an umami boost. I also like to add a little soy or tamari added to a tomato-based sauce. It adds depth and umami, and is quite compatible with tomato. Or a little miso slipped into slow-cooked sauces like Bolognese (which is already an umami bomb) works too.