Think sustainable spaghetti: In foodservice, pasta already has versatility and a low food cost on its side. In addition, when customers order Mediterranean menu items with plant-based foods like vegetables and whole grain pasta, they can also feel good about minimizing negative impact on the planet through their food choices. According to the “Double Pyramid” nutritional and environmental food model from the think tank Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition (BCFN), foods recommended most as part of the Mediterranean diet are also foods that have less of an impact on the environment. Environmental impact is based on a calculation of water consumption, land use and greenhouse gas emissions needed to produce those foods.

 

Mediterranean diet principles are characterized by high consumption of plant-based foods including fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, olive oil and grains, with moderate consumption of fish, poultry, dairy products and eggs. The Mediterranean diet also includes a low consumption of red meat and sweets.  According to a recently published study in the New England Journal of Medicine, the Mediterranean style of eating may lower heart disease among high-risk individuals, and a study recently published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry found the Mediterranean diet can offer a reduced risk of age-related mental decline.

Given these new nods to beneficial aspects of a Mediterranean diet, it won’t be surprising if restaurant customers show an increased enthusiasm for Mediterranean dishes on the menu.

Here are four recipe ideas that partner vegetables and lean proteins with pasta.

Pasta with escarole and cannellini beans from Cinelli’s Pizzeria and Grill in Oceanside, NY 
 
Penne with braised beef from Scarletti’s Restaurant, Downers Grove, IL
 
Angel Hair Pasta Frittata from Ortanique in Coral Gables, FL
 
McPhee’s Grill Jambalaya Pasta in Templeton, CA