Greetings from the Barilla Test Kitchen: Getting the Full Flavor Experience

Greetings from the Barilla Test Kitchen! Seeing our partners and colleagues at the Flavor Experience in Monterey last month was a refreshing return to “normal” and a chance to get our creative juices flowing. There’s more on the trends we saw at Flavor Experience here, and what follows are a few ideas we are inspired by, connected to three of the top entrée trends mentioned at the conference:

Cacio e Pepe

Chef Yury’s Cacio e Pepe Rigatoni with Charred Chef’s Garden Zucchini and Tempura Zucchini Blossom

“Seeing Cacio e Pepe still at the top of the charts for trending pasta dishes reminded me of this dish I created for a partnership with Chefs Garden last summer. It takes the simple, classic Cacio e Pepe and elevates it while celebrating a beautiful produce item.” -Chef Yury Krasilovsky

The simple idea of good cheese and plenty of cracked black pepper with pasta is the kind of genius that can take you all kinds of places. What about a Cacio e Pepe take on chicken parm? Or a fall adapatation with butternut squash or pumpkin and hazelnuts? Or using Szechuan peppercorns for an Asian twist that adds a multi-sensory element? Cacio for days….


Best known as a shredded chicken dish, tinga (or “torn”) is a classic of Mexican cuisine, often served on a tostada with all the fixings. The flavor is a little bit sweet, smoky and spicy from chipotles in adobo. With a tomato base, it’s not really so different from a pasta sauce! We could see going straight ahead with a chicken tinga pasta, topped with cilantro and a bit of cotija. And these flavors are fantastic with vegetarian ingredients.? Try an alt-meat version done with jackfruit, or an all-veggie version, using ratatouille-type veggies slow cooked in a chipotle-tomato broth.

Hot Chicken

“If I were pairing hot chicken to a pasta dish it would definitely be with a “creamy” dish to cut the heat.” – Chef Tim Minafee

Hot chicken is an indulgence well worth the trip to Prince’s Hot Chicken in Nashville for the original. We love UMASS chef Alex Ong’s Korean-style fried chicken on mac and cheese, and the same idea would work well with Nashville Hot. Or maybe the pasta belongs as a cooling pasta salad, with a creamy base and pickles for a vinegary tang. Going back to chicken parm, we could see a Nashville hot chicken paired with a Calabrian chile-spiked spaghetti sauce.