Recipe Contest Winners Announced: The Plant-Based Future is in Good Hands with These Young Chefs

The culinary future looks bright, especially for the frontier of healthier, plant-based dishes. Barilla for Professionals recently held a recipe contest for students at Johnson & Wales University’s Providence campus to develop recipe concepts using their Barilla Protein+® products. Students were tasked with creating a dish using Mediterranean forward ingredients including fruits, vegetables, high quality grains, legumes, fish, healthy oils and a reduced amount of animal fat. While animal proteins were allowed, the first and second place winners developed vegan dishes, and the third-place winner went vegetarian.

Grand Prize Winner Maria Paula Hernandez Disla riffed on the iconic Roman pasta classic cacio e pepe, with a vegan twist in her Vegan “Cashew e pepe.” The creamy sauce is made with a base of browned vegan butter, roasted garlic, pureed white beans and cashews, and an innovative shiitake mushroom “bacon” adds texture and umami flavor.

“The texture and subtle nuttiness in the sauce mushrooms are a great match with Protein+® spaghetti,” said Barilla Executive Chef Lorenzo Boni. “This is a vegan dish that would satisfy a lot of pasta fans!”

Second place winner Vanessa Mello leaned into the flavors of summer in her Summer Vegetable Protein+ Cellentani. The judges liked the star treatment she gave the zucchini, trusting in the pasta to provide an appealing foundation for all those veggies.

One of the most attractive dishes in the competition was 3rd place winner Josue Angel Cervantes’ Mole Rosa en Otoño. Supported by a great backstory of his own ancestry and the cultural heritage of mole, this dish is vibrant in natural color and flavor from beets, chiles, seeds, and dried fruits. Only adding a touch of queso fresco to garnish would render it off limits to vegans! Plated in a contemporary “half-moon” style really elevates it, too.

We look forward to following the careers of these budding chefs as they bring us into a more plant-based future. Seeing what they can do with the plant-based upgrade from Protein+® pasta, what’s ahead looks delicious. Buon Appetito!