The Barilla Test Kitchen Team Talks Trends & Recipe Inspiration

Greetings from the Barilla Test Kitchen! As a culinary team, we got together with our editor to talk about the Mintel trend predictions, and spotlight a few recipes we’ve been working with that fit the themes.

First up is “Play with your Food ” – we love this one! We see a ton of interest in new twists on comfort food both directly from consumers, and from our foodservice customers. With a few creative twists, the classics never get old. A few takes on mac and cheese that we are into right now are:

Barilla Elbow Mac and Cheese with Turmeric and Roasted Cauliflower – Chef Chandon Clenard, Stanford University Dining. The twist here is a curry-roasted cauliflower addition, and going bold with the color from turmeric and mustard. It’s still got all the appeal and rich cheesy goodness and looks dynamite on the plate (or take-out box) but it works in a good portion of veggies and some new and interesting flavors.

Love Pockets – Chef Taylor Garrigan, HomeTeam BBQ, Charleston SC. Chef went right at that nostalgic dish of mac and cheese with the frozen peas from so many American childhoods, and gave it a decidedly modern and regional spin with local peas and a breadcrumb topping. The medium shells are a new twist over the elbows, too.

Next, “Restaurants Redefined” – there’s so much creativity going on with new formats for restaurant food, from pop-ups to catering to delivery. Here are a few that we like for demonstrating these new approaches and using pasta’s versatility to the max:

Pasta frittata – Chef David Viviano, Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii. Foods that travel or can work as handhelds are king these days, and that’s what makes this take on a staple of naples, the pasta frittata, so right for the moment. We could see this as part of a “picnic basket” bundle or for a catered party. Pair it with a dipping sauce of the guests’ choice, and you’ve got a winner!

Cacio e Pepe – Chef Kevin Felice, 40North Restaurant Group. Cacio e pepe practically won the internet last year as a simple, classic dish that was ready for its star turn. Here, Chef’s interpretation builds it for the takeout world, ready for travel and reheating.

Vietnamese Spaghetti Bento Box – Chef Christine Seitz – Bento-style boxes are one of our favorite takeout approaches, and they’re a hit with consumers too. They’re ideal for customization and keeping the elements of a dish in optimal condition until its time to eat. The Vietnamese flavors are excellent paired with toothsome semolina pasta, and it’s easy to make this one vegan, too.