World Pasta Day 2021: Showcasing Pasta On The Menu

Key points

  • World Pasta Day is 25 October and presents opportunities to promote your pasta dishes via social media
  • Traditional pasta dishes remain customer favourites but innovative presentation styles and flavours are now trending on many foodservice menus
  • Pasta is also becoming a more versatile menu option, with chefs creating pastas for breakfast and dessert
  • Pasta in its traditional format won’t hold up well for home delivery but it is possible to adapt your pasta menu for the delivery market by following some helpful hints

Mark the date on your calendar – 25 October is World Pasta Day, and once again its organizers, the International Pasta Organization in Italy, are creating hashtags which are expected to trend across social media, which you can use to help showcase your innovative pasta dishes to customers.

In recent years pasta has been recognised as a sustainable food choice – and smart foodservice operators are capitalising upon this newfound status by pairing pasta with fresh local produce, organic vegetables and fruits.

And while traditional pasta dishes are still favourites with customers, innovative presentation styles and flavours are now trending on many foodservice menus, such as ragouts with fresh herb notes and inclusions – such as playing layers of herbs between individual pasta sheets.

Coloured pasta is also becoming popular, with chefs experimenting with vegetable dyes to create colourful hues which make for eyecatching presentation with no compromise on flavour or mouthfeel.

We’re also seeing the rise of alternative pasta grains – gone are the days when durum wheat was your sole pasta option. Gluten free pastas made from rice flour have been available for several years and more recently have been complemented by pasta made from quinoa, lentils, chickpeas and even vegetable pastas made from zucchini and cauliflower.

Pasta is also becoming a more versatile menu option – once traditionally served as an appetiser or entree, innovative chefs are now creating pastas for the breakfast and dessert menus. As pasta is grain-based and a source of fibre, it’s really a natural fit to serve it on the breakfast menu, complementing it with other breakfast ingredients such as egg, bacon, ham and ricotta. For dessert, sweet pasta dough can be made with flour and chocolate or Nutella, and fried pastas such as chocolate deep fried ravioli can be found on specials boards at cafes and restaurants in our urban centres.

And though pasta in its traditional format doesn’t hold up well to the rigours of home delivery – it’s traditionally served when it’s ‘al dente’, so will end up overcooked if it’s left sitting in a hot sauce while awaiting pickup – it is possible to adapt your pasta menu for the delivery market by following these helpful hints:

·       Choose a quality foodservice pasta that’s been designed to be par-cooked, chilled and reheated (such as those available from well known manufacturers such as Barilla). You should then conduct your own tests to determine the optimum cooking time which will ensure the pasta will maintain its texture and presentation after say half an hour’s hold time in a delivery container. It may be that you’ll have to undercook the pasta by a minute or so – remember that pasta will keep cooking while it’s hot, even after it’s removed from the stovetop.

·       If you’re making cream-based pasta sauce, make sure your cream will withstand the rigours of the delivery process. Anchor Extra Yield Culinary Cream has been designed to deliver a superior coating consistency, making it the perfect choice for thick, creamy pasta sauce. It doesn’t need to be reduced to reach optimum coating consistency – just heat and add to your other ingredients and it’s ready to serve, delivering up to 40 per cent better yield than regular thickened cream.

·       The best way to ensure your pasta dishes will arrive at the customer’s doorstep in optimum condition is to separate the pasta from its sauce and garnishings and package all those items up separately. Include an instruction card for your customers which they can follow to finish the meal at home – reheating the pasta in the microwave and adding the heated sauce, herbs and spices and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese to create the final meal.

·       You can also focus on providing baked pasta dishes, which hold up well and retain heat during delivery – such as lasagne and cannelloni. In these cases you don’t have to worry about keeping the pasta ‘al dente’ as it’s the other ingredients, predominantly tomato, cheese and meat, which provide the flavours and texture, with pasta’s role being that of a holding medium to keep everything together