It gives the pasta a thicker texture to the bite and is delicious—not to mention healthy,” says Scotti. “Guest really love this pasta because of its wonderful flavor and texture. Lots of people end up asking for it on their next visit.” Scotti, a native of Lombardia, came up with this dish by combining the bounty of Northern California with traditional techniques from the homeland. “The inspiration for this pasta came from the Valtellina area in the Lombardia region where their most popular dish is pizzoccheri, a pasta made with buckwheat, cabbage, potato, sage, butter and Casera cheese.” Working with a gluten-free flour like buckwheat can be a little tricky, Scotti admits. “It tends to dry out since there is no gluten, so having few extra eggs or yolks close by can be very useful if the dough is having trouble forming,” he suggests. “Typically, I use four eggs and three egg yolks per pound of flour when making this pasta.” And if the buckwheat dough is simply not coming together, Scotti will add in a little all-purpose flour. While the dish may no longer be gluten-free, the proper pasta texture is achieved.
Shaping interesting dishes
Dried pasta has its place, too. The products have a much longer shelf life than their freshly made cousins, and manufacturers offer shapes that can’t be readily made in a restaurant setting. Additionally, unique shapes of dried pasta can be intriguing to customers and can elevate the dish, says Boni. “I believe specialty shapes help restaurants differentiate themselves, and guests want to feel that they’re getting something special when dining out.
Cellentani Pasta with italian sausage and MushrooMs
Chef Bruno Wehren, B&B Consulting, for Barilla Foodservice, www.barillaus.com Yield: 16 servings 1 red onion, finely diced 8 cloves garlic, finely chopped 1 c. olive oil 3 lb. Italian sausage, skins removed 2 c. red wine 2 lb. porcini mushrooms, quartered 2 jars Barilla Spicy Marinara Sauce 1 1/2 c. tomato juice 1 lb. tomato, diced 3/4 c. Italian parsley, chopped 1/2 c. basil, chopped Satl and pepper, to taste 2 lbs. Barilla Cellentani Pasta, par-cooked Parmesan cheese, as needed Method (1) Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Add Italian sausage, and cook until half done. Add red wine; simmer until reduced and alcohol has cooked off. Add mushrooms, let cook for 3-4 minutes. (2) Add marinara sauce, tomato juice, tomatoes, herbs and seasoning, let cook for 5-6 minutes.(3) Add pre-cooked pasta and heat through, cover and let sit for 2 minutes. Grate Parmesan over top before serving. Wine pairing: Zinfandel, America’s “sweetheart grape,” was brought to California by Italian immigrants. The sweet, jammy Pedroncelli Zinfandel “Mother Clone” 2008 (California) has the stuffing to play off the sausage, herbs and spicy marinara sauce.
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28 | Chef
You always want one or two shapes on the menu that everyone is familiar with—but when you offer a shape that is unique, people usually respond very positively and, in my experience, are more willing to try different sauces to go along with them.” Barilla has recently introduced a 208/240V new fancier semolina pasta cut called cellentani. Comparable to cavatappi, cellentani is a corkscrew-shaped pasta that is both durable and adaptable to many preparations, including a chilled vegetable pasta salad with an olive oil vinaigrette or a hearty meat sauce with mushrooms (recipe, above). Boni says, “Cellentani is one of my favorite cuts. It keeps its shape and texture extremely well, even under stressful, high-volume procedures. I used it to feed over 16,000 people in one day for the New York Marathon, and not one single dish was overcooked. At the same time, it’s also a cut that if precooked à la minute responds extreme-
ly well, clings to the sauce perfectly and looks great on the plate. Because it’s unusual, guests see it as a special item that they can’t get at the restaurant down the street.” No matter if you’re serving a heaping mound of house-made pasta or an entrée that incorporates unique dried shapes, it is of course the care you put into concocting your dish that will ultimately woo guests—and positively affect your bottom line, according to Boni. “It’s all about the food, so it has got to taste delicious,” he says. “I recommend selecting your ingredients very carefully, getting the most out of your food cost and combining it all with simplicity and good taste.” Editor’s note: Salute! Chef wine consultant Marlene Rossman has paired the Italian-American recipes in this article with Cal-Itals, California-produced wines made from Italian grape varietals.