Going Plant-Forward at UMASS

The foodservice program at UMASS is legendary, not just for its scale as the largest in the country, but for unrivaled quality, variety and guest satisfaction. You don’t win “Best Campus Food” from Princeton Review for 5 years running without being on top of your game! That takes constant adaptation to the needs of every incoming class of students and their interests, dietary restrictions and tastes. And these days, it entails a focus on plant-based foods.

“It’s a brand new game, trying to meet the demand,” says Chef Alexander Ong, director of Culinary Excellence at UMASS. “Plant-based is a big deal.”

To meet that demand, using products and ingredients that are versatile and popular with students is key. Barilla Legume pasta is one such ally for the UMASS team, and they’ve found some of the keys to unlocking the flavor potential of these pastas in applications that win over the campus dining crowd.

“Our students eat pasta like there’s no tomorrow,” says Ong. “In terms of the health aspect, the nutrition value, Barilla Legume checks all the boxes.”

Here are a few of our favorite concepts from the team at UMASS:

Red Lentil Penne Spring Vegetable “Carbonara” (Chef Bob Bankert) – This is a veggie-centric take on carbonara with marinated and roasted king trumpet mushrooms standing in for pancetta. It’s still got that indulgent appeal and looks great on the plate, and you’d never guess there’s no meat.

Green Goddess Chickpea Pasta Salad with Acorn Squash (Chef Iztayub Valenzuela). The acorn squash gets star treatment in this warm pasta salad and the latin flavors from cumin, pumpkin seeds and red chile are a great match with chickpea pasta.

Chicken Carbonara with Chickpea Rotini (Chef Kevin Paul). Being plant-forward doesn’t mean NO meat, just less of it, and used wisely for maximum flavor impact. This is a dish to win over the most committed carnivore to legume pasta. Who wouldn’t say yes to this?

Barilla Legume will soon be available in bulk packaging for foodservice! Ask your local Barilla representative for more details and visit here.