Reinventing the pasta category | Food sector news

CHICAGO – Slowed down in recent years by keto diets and low in carbs, pasta is making a comeback. While spirals, elbows and spaghetti made from durum wheat (semolina) have comforted many during the first months of the pandemic, it is the new formulations that are fueling innovation in chilled and frozen ready meals. It’s pasta that keto, low-carb dieters can consume thanks to innovations from processors using alternative grains, legumes, vegetables, and even animal proteins to make tasty, nutrient-dense pasta, all of which. by adding the feature of being gluten-free, an attribute that continues to attract consumers reading labels.

“Black rice, pumpkin, red lentils and purple carrots bring new variations to traditional pasta in an Instagram-friendly way,” said Jonathan Deutsch, PhD, professor of culinary arts and food science, Department of Management of Food and Hospitality, Drexel University, Philadelphia; and one of the 2022 Trend Watchers for the Specialty Food Association, New York.

For The Real Good Food Co., Los Angeles, thinly sliced ​​chicken is the key to its gluten-free lasagna-style noodles used in the company’s new low-carb, high-protein frozen lasagna bowl. Using a proprietary process, the company combines the chicken with Parmesan, and the mixture is shaped, pressed and sliced ​​to resemble lasagna.

“Our goal is to make food more nutritious by eliminating highly processed flours,” said AJ Stiffelman, director of marketing. “By cutting out carbohydrates and sugars, we are working to address concerns related to a variety of health issues, including diabetes, obesity and general fitness. “

The company chose to avoid using low-carb, multi-ingredient noodles. Instead, the brand relies on a complete food formulation that provides positive nutrition.

“It has 32 grams of protein and only 11 grams of net carbs,” said Bryan Freeman, president of Real Good Food Co. “Traditional lasagna dishes have over 50 grams of carbohydrate per serving, added sugars, and very little nutritional value. “

Chicken noodles are also used in the brand’s new line of frozen cannelloni, along with the low-carb, gluten-free “pasta” filled with ricotta cheese. The varieties are marinara, spinach and alfredo.

In Real Good Food’s Lemon Chicken Bowl, hearts of palm are the key ingredient to creating gluten-free pasta noodles.

“With the frozen meal space being one of the fastest growing retail categories, we wanted to provide consumers with more choices,” said Mr. Stiffelman. “We explored options for more traditional noodles and, after much trial and error, we found that the naturally gluten-free palm heart noodles met our standards. “

The company sources the noodles from overseas, then prepares them in a way that makes them a little drier for the lemon chicken bowl. The technique brings them closer to the resemblance to traditional semolina pasta.

What makes hearts of palm more attractive than zoodles as a frozen pasta substitute? It is the fibrous nature of palm hearts that binds the inherent 90% water content, making it a structurally more durable noodle than squash. Palm hearts are harvested from the inner core and growing buds of some palms. They are 100% edible and firm, much like linguini, which are the most common form for them to be cut and sold as a traditional pasta substitute.

Replace the semolina

Firmness is a key attribute of pasta. This is the reason why coarsely ground semolina flour is so popular for making pasta. It comes from a variety of wheat called durum wheat, with the word durum meaning hard, as in durable. Hardness refers to the force to crush it and is correlated with the protein content. Durum wheat contains about 13% protein, compared to all-purpose flour, which has a protein content of 8-11%.

The coarse grinding gives the semolina pasta a rough texture, which allows the sauces to adhere. This is something impossible with some of the original gluten free rice based noodles. Rice is also low in protein – around 6% – and devoid of fiber. The fiber content of wheat pasta varies, but all contain it, which also contributes to their durability.

Visually, semolina flour has a natural golden hue that comes from durum wheat. Pasta made with all-purpose flour, bread flour, or rice flour looks white.

It’s hard to create wheat-free, gluten-free noodles that look like traditional pasta. The good news is that consumers have become more forgiving, especially when pasta is used in a ready meal. Formulators have also gotten more creative by mixing ingredients together to produce pastes that appeal to the senses while providing nutrition.

Cadence Kitchen, Corona, Calif., Known for its frozen prepared entrees, recently entered the gluten-free space with chicken and pasta in a barbecue cheese sauce. The dish cooks in under 10 minutes on the stovetop and requires no additional ingredients.

“Knowing that consumer interest in gluten-free products has almost quadrupled over the past decade and hearing our own customers’ desire for more gluten-free options, we are committed to innovating a pasta recipe that delivers this while delivering unmatched quality when cooking jelly, ”said Alex Klein, President.

The shells are made with red lentil flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, whole egg, egg white and xanthan gum. Eggs contribute protein and help firmness in pasta, while starches and gum retain moisture and prevent breakage, among other functions.

Cappello’s, Denver, has added three varieties of gluten-free dumplings to its frozen pasta line. The star ingredient – almond flour – is combined with egg, tapioca flour and other ingredients. The varieties are five cheeses (ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, fontina and asiago) and spinach with ricotta cheese. There is also a dairy-free butternut squash option.

Tribe 9 Foods and Caulipower Gluten Free PastaTribe 9 Foods, Madison, Wisconsin, manufacturer of the Taste Republic brand of gluten-free refrigerated pasta, is launching plant-based sausage dumplings with Beyond Sausage Italian Crumbles from Beyond Meat, El Segundo, Calif. The caveat here is the product is not vegan, although it does tout the merits of plant proteins.

“Great tasting fresh ravioli should be available to everyone,” said Brian Durst, CEO of Tribe 9 Foods. “Beyond Meat has done for meat what we have done for pasta: creating an option comparable to its traditional counterparts. “

The ravioli are made with brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, whole egg, egg white, flax seeds and xanthan gum, a formulation similar to red lentil shells. . Brown rice flour provides a little more protein and fiber than if it came from white rice. It also provides a bit of color. Flaxseed is another source of protein, fiber, and color, and when it absorbs water, produces a gelatinous texture that mimics wheat pasta. Because it’s fresh pasta, ravioli cooks al dente in just two to three minutes.

Fresh pasta, sold chilled or frozen, is pre-cooked, and this is an important attribute of many new generation gluten-free options on the market. The products are fragile, unlike their durum wheat counterparts. With products like Taste Republic Ravioli, excessive boiling can cause the product to decompose. Drying it and selling it in the ambient aisle will also adversely affect the integrity of the product during boiling.

Earlier this year, Los Angeles-based Caulipower introduced two varieties – linguine and pappardelle – of frozen cauliflower pasta. Gluten-free pasta contains cauliflower as the first ingredient; However, it also contains a range of other ingredients, including corn flour, potato starch, rice flour, lentil flour, psyllium, citrus fiber, l sunflower oil, guar gum and xanthan gum to create a desirable texture. The pasta is vegan and does not contain eggs, which is beneficial for the integrity of the product and the protein content. One serving contains 5 grams of fiber but 2 grams of incomplete protein (does not contain all the essential amino acids in the proportion required by the body).

“It looks, bakes and tastes the same as fresh pasta, with fewer calories than any other on the market, fresh, frozen or dry,” said Gail Becker, Founder and COO. “Our mission is to make America’s favorite and delicious comfort foods healthier using the power of plants. “

Dry limits ingredient options

When it comes to gluten-free dry pasta, there are fewer ingredients and processes available to formulators, which tends to take a toll on quality. Many are simple swaps of semolina for a legume or other gluten-free flour, mixed with water, then formed and dried. For many consumers, it works, especially if used in recipes with tasty sauces.

Barilla, Northbrook, Ill., For example, offers chickpea spaghetti. Like the rest of the Barilla legume pasta line, Barilla’s chickpea spaghetti is made entirely from chickpea flour.

“We are always listening to buyers,” said Jean-Pierre Comte, president of Barilla Americas. “Spaghetti is a popular and sought-after cut, so adding it to our legume offerings was a natural step. Adding a long dough to chickpeas allows pasta lovers to have more creativity in their dishes and recipes with delicious taste and al dente texture.

Barilla Chickpea Spaghetti provides 11 grams of protein and 8 grams of dietary fiber per serving. It joins chickpea rotini, red lentil spaghetti, red lentil penne and red lentil rotini.

Lupine flour is the key ingredient in JaziLupini from the Rochester, NY-based startup of the same name. Founder Jazz Sanchez experimented with various alternative flours before landing on lupine, which is high in protein and fiber and a good source of many vitamins and minerals. She mixes lupine flour with pea protein isolate, tapioca flour and xanthan gum. One serving has 26 grams of protein, 18 grams of fiber, and 3 net carbs.

Lupine is a quirk in the legume world because it is the only bean without starch, which means it has less sugar than other legumes, which contributes to its keto-friendly positioning.

“JaziLupini will be the first keto pasta option on the market that is versatile enough to prepare, reheat, cook and freeze meals, just like real pasta,” Ms. Sanchez said.

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