Find fresh new ways to makeover two traditional pastas
In restaurant kitchens, as in life, sometimes you just need to mix things up. Traditional Italian American pasta dishes like spaghetti and meatballs and fettuccini Alfredo provide a classic foundation to build a great specialty dish. The basics are the same — meat, sauce and pasta — but, the execution of each is dramatically different. Let’s take those principles and examine how to change them up to offer menu items that you can work with to create a dish that is uniquely yours.
Spaghetti and Meatballs
It’s one of the most beloved pastas served in many pizzerias. Italian Americans in late 1800s used a mix of accessible and affordable ingredients and that classic marinara from the old country. Some might say spaghetti and meatballs is
sacred. But just as pizza has been reinvented and adapted to American regions and palates, so too has spaghetti and meatballs. To breathe new life into this staple doesn’t have to be a big leap. Here are four deviations that give spaghetti and meatballs new gusto:
- Go baked. It’s an easy switch up to add ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan and bake it until golden and bubbly. It’s a dish that can be baked ahead and heated to order.
- Stuff the meatballs. Simply offering cheese-stuffed meatballs can be the update your customers are looking for.
- Make it spicy. Red pepper flakes, cayenne and cumin can heat up your marinara and meatball mix to just the right level for your spicy food fans.
- Hit it with a sauté finish. Pour a serving portion of spaghetti in a hot sauté pan of garlic, herbs and olive oil. It gives customers a pop of fresh flavor.
- Do a mashup. Take two flavors and combine them. Incorporate capers, olives and anchovies to create a Spaghetti Puttanesca and Meatballs.
In Rome in the early 1900s, Fettuccini Alfredo was a pasta course. In America, it turned into a main course, most popular with the addition of chicken. A classic Alfredo sauce of Parmesan and butter is heavenly. Later iterations with heavy whipping cream elevated it to divine.
You can keep the sauce traditional and introduce new veggies and proteins. Chicken fettuccini Alfredo becomes deluxe when you add blanched and sautéed asparagus, garlic and crumbled bacon.
Change up the alfredo sauce itself. You can vastly change its flavor by mixing up the cheese. Try a creamy and tangy chicken alfredo by adding goat cheese or bleu cheese and lemon.
Or, you can introduce ingredients you wouldn’t normally pair with fettuccini alfredo. In the Pizza Today Test Kitchen, we tried a few variations of a Nashville Hot Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo. We found that adapting the classic alfredo sauce to include a white cheddar and more cracked black pepper was a great compliment to the hot chicken. We finished it with a spicy aioli drizzle.
Denise Greer is Executive Editor at Pizza Today.