Greetings from the Barilla Test Kitchen!

This month we take a look at the top-scoring entries in a recent pasta innovation contest.  The competing chefs were given a briefing on the latest trends, as well as a mystery ingredient representing an emerging flavor in pasta.  As a culinary team, we narrowed the entries to a top-10, and then screened them with consumers using Datassential’s SCORES platform. Here are the top scoring entries, and a little of what we loved about them:

Spaghetti alla Vongole and Prawns with Spicy Gremolata & Parmesan Brodo

This dish scored highest overall for purchase intent in SCORES, and you can see why! Spaghetti Vongole is Italian for “Spaghetti with clams” – a simple dish that dates back to the 1700s. We really liked how Chef Colin Dodt updated this classic dish with just a few ingredients and told a very flavorful story. He cooks the clams simply in chopped garlic, white wine, parmesan and butter. The clam broth is then enriched into a parmesan “brodo” to coat the al dente Barilla Spaghetti. A spicy breadcrumb gremolata adds crunch, and a hint of lemon zest. Wow! A decidedly modern update to this classic dish.

Hot Honey Pimento Mac and Cheese

It was a good bet that a mac and cheese would make the top scores; it’s the #1 pasta dish in America! Cleverly using his mystery ingredient in the hot honey, Chef Justin Nelson took this comfort food favorite to a new level with the full southern treatment. Pairing Barilla Cellentani pasta with hot honey pimento cheese sauce made for a perfect balance of heat, sweet and smoke. And going all-in on indulgence, he tops it off with pickle-brined, crispy fried hot honey chicken.

Spaghetti “Aglio Olio” with Black Garlic Butter and Spicy Tamarind Shrimp

Garlic in all its forms – roasted, chopped, garlic cream, garlic butter, and yes, black garlic are all growing rapidly on pasta menus. Chef Michelle Palmer took inspiration from the classic, simple “Aglio e Olio” and gave it a modern spin with a black garlic compound butter. Her mystery ingredient was tamarind – another trending pasta ingredient – which she used to glaze the shrimp on the dish with beautiful color and a hint of balancing acidity. Tossed with al dente Barilla Spaghetti, it’s a winner!

Congrats to the winning chefs and a big Grazie to all who participated!