ROSEMONT, ILL. — Whole grain pasta on the palate has a “wheaty,” bread-like and nutty flavor, said Lorenzo Boni, executive chef for Barilla America.
“It definitely has a stronger flavor than traditional pasta,” he said Sept. 26 in Rosemont at the Whole Grains Council event “Whole Grains in Foodservice, the Next Frontier.”
Ingredients with softer textures and neutral flavors that want to partner with whole grain pasta need not apply.
“If you want to be more successful, if you want to basically stand up to the flavor of whole grain pasta, you want to go for more assertive flavors, more ingredients that are full of flavor and color,” Mr. Boni said. “That is what really makes the difference. So you want to go for that savory flavor and sweeter sauces.”
Sauces with more chunks and more texture may hide the graininess of whole grain pasta, Mr. Boni said. He recommended “assertive” vegetables such as kale, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts and mushrooms as well as aged cow’s milk cheese like Parmigiano-Reggiano. Chilies like crushed red peppers provide heat. Natural sweetness may come from winter squashes, carrots and other root vegetables.
Cooking techniques play a factor, too, Mr. Boni said. Roasting vegetables and proteins may lead to caramelization and bring out sweetness, for example.
The Barilla chef created a whole grain pasta dish in a demonstration at the Whole Grains Council event: rotini with smoked tomatoes, blue cheese and sorrel-infused oil.
Mr. Boni said it frustrates him when people consider a whole grain choice almost a sacrifice, a choice that allows them to eat a more indulgent item later on.“It shouldn’t be like that,” he said. “Whole grain, if well-presented, is very satisfactory and very tasteful. It’s just a matter of how you present it.”