At the close of National Whole Grains Month, the following is a guide to help you achieve the best flavor pairings with whole grains like Barilla whole grain pastas. Getting a whole grain pasta dish to succeed on the menu isn’t as simple as swapping it in for traditional pasta. It’s a bit like pairing wine with food – some pairings bring out the best qualities in both, and some don’t work as well. And after all, to earn its place on the menu, a dish has to appeal to more than just the health-conscious diner! Here’s some of what we’ve learned, and principles to help you in your healthy culinary development:
Whole grains have a more assertive flavor profile than refined grains, so you want to choose ingredients and vegetables that can match that intensity, and cooking techniques that complement the natural nutty sweetness.
Ingredients that Pair Well With Whole Grain Pastas
- Vegetables such as kale, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli rabe, asparagus, and brussels sprouts
- Mushrooms of all types, especially earthy wild and exotic types like morels, porcini or chanterelle
- Aged, cow’s-milk cheeses of Northern Italy, like Parmigiano-Reggiano or Gorgonzola
- Heat from chilies or crushed red pepper flakes (peperoncino)
Cooking Techniques that Bring Out the Best in Whole Grain Pastas
- Roasting or toasting vegetables and proteins gives you caramelization for added sweetness
- Grilling and smoking veggies and proteins add charred or smoky notes that complement whole grains
- Especially with kids menu items, use sauces that will coat and cover the surface of the pasta, and toss pasta in the sauce before service to distribute and coat each piece. This helps avoid concerns about “brown” pasta
- Don’t overcook or hold your whole grain pastas too long; because the bran interrupts the gluten network, whole grain pastas by nature are not as durable as their semolina cousins
For more inspiration visit barillafoodservicerecipes.com or check out the recipe below.