Prepared Foods talks pasta formulation and taste trends with Chef Herb Stockschlaeder II, CRC, DTR, who is director of R&D and Strategic Channels for Rosina Food Products, Inc., Buffalo, N.Y., Rosina manufactures and distributes frozen meatballs, pasta and other specialties through retail, foodservice and industrial ingredient channels. Its specialty pastas come under the Rosina and Celentano brands and include ravioli, manicotti, tortellini and stuffed shells.


Prepared Foods: What’s been happening with Italian-style pastas? 
Chef Herb Stockschlaeder:
Pasta entrees, particularly at foodservice, are quite mature in that we don’t see a ton of variation, as much of the market has already trended toward authenticity. We do see new sauces and other ingredients in pasta entrees, such as an Arrabiata sauce and various cheeses (beyond the more common Parmesan, Romano and Gorgonzola). We also see consumers seeking spicier dishes.


PF: In what ways are actual pastas changing most?
People are “carb aware” and that’s reflected in carb-less versions of items that are normally carb-loaded. A good example of this is chickpea pasta. In addition to being lower in carbohydrates, it satisfies consumer needs in that it’s high in fiber, high in protein, and for some, free of gluten. Similarly, some consumers are using Shirataki noodles, which are typically calorie-free, as a pasta replacement. 
Finally, we see some consumers, at home, using squash as a noodle replacement. Churning out “fake” pasta from your Spiralizer is definitely a hot pasta replacement trend. We see people paying big bucks for pre-spiraled veggie pasta at our local grocery stores. 
In the short goods arena, Cavatappi is king for a while. It is just a fun shape to eat, look at and it holds up well. It also is excellent at holding sauces and chunky components together. I can say that when it comes to filled pasta, such as ravioli, our research shows that the shape actually matters very little so long as you have just the right dough-to-filling ratios, filling texture and flavor and dough bite.


PF: In what ways related spices changing most?
If there is one single ingredient that’s emerging in all cuisines, it’s tamarind. A key flavor in Asian and Latin American cuisines, we’re slowly seeing it creep into Italian dishes. Outside of that, we’re seeing more use of ingredients such as like thyme, tarragon, mint, and saffron showing up in pasta entrees.


PF: What’s been a new, on-trend pasta at Rosina?
I think our premium pastas reflect well on most trends. What comes to mind is a Pecorino Pear Ravioli developed for foodservice. The cheese is a trending “new” cheese (appearing more frequently on menus). Meanwhile this pairing of flavors reflects several trends that I regard as “Flavor Adventure” and “Pairing Savory with Sweet.” To the first point, we see consumers simply seeking new flavor experiences. Secondly, consumers are up to try new pairings of flavors together. We’ve also experimented on our meat side of the business with offerings such as Pineapple Chorizo or Maple Bacon.   

Originally appeared in the July, 2018 issue of Prepared Foods as First Person.