Premium flours and grains bring upscale appeal to pizza menus 

Following its attendance at the International Pizza Expo 2018, the Ardent Mills culinary team shares ideas for using premium flours and grains to add value to one of America's favourite foods and one of the most vibrant categories in the restaurant industry. 

"High-quality wheat flour is the foundation for strong, flavourful pizza dough, and additional grains can do so much more for pizzerias," says Chef Jason Gronlund, Technical Sales Manager Foodservice, Ardent Mills. "Ancient and heirloom flours and unmilled grains can differentiate crusts, add texture to salads and inspire innovative ideas across pizzeria menus." 

Ardent Mills showcased pizza flours, ancient and heirloom grains, as well as new products: crisped and IQF grains. 

Four pizzeria trends and ideas from Ardent Mills to watch: 

Pizza for better health
Consumers have a range of dietary concerns and preferences when it comes to healthful eating, and these demands are showing up in their choices for all food, not just traditional "health food." In pizza, that means that whole, mixed and gluten-free grains can add nutrient density, satiety, higher protein and more fibre to dough formulations. These grains also bring culinary interest to the crust with varied flavours, textures and colours. People appreciate having their pizza and getting a nutritional bonus, too. 
• Menu Idea: Power-Pack Pizza: An energy-packed flatbread pizza featuring Ultragrain® Whole Wheat Flour crust topped with sweet potatoes, kale, ricotta, roasted garlic and onion, and fresh parsley. 

Food trends in pizza format
Consider on-trend ideas that aren't entirely new but are new when applied to pizza. For instance, Ardent Mills featured an "Avocado Toast" spelt flatbread crust with olive oil, mozzarella, shaved Parmesan and green onion during the expo. As the fast-casual pizza segment gets more crowded and competitive, operators need differentiators. Tying into on-trend ideas and popular ingredients can do the trick. 
• Menu Idea: El Hombre Pizza: Heirloom White Sonora wheat crust layered with Mexican street corn, carnitas, Hatch green chillies, guacamole smear and shredded Jack/cheddar and cotija cheeses; and Great Plains Quinoa Crisps as garnish. 

Better sides and extras
As pizzas become more upscale and artisan-styled, it's important that salads, starters and side-dish options keep pace. Operators are using pizza dough for breadsticks, garlic knots and other appetisers. Salads and sides with varied textures and crisped or chewy grains pair well with pizza and bring more nutrition to the table. 
• Menu Idea: Great Grain Gremolata: IQF White Sonora Wheat, IQF Pure-Purple™ Barley and IQF Farrow (Spelt) with basil, Italian parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, tarragon, black pepper, salt and crushed red pepper; served with breadsticks. 

Dessert pizzas
More pizzerias are adding dessert pizzas to the menu in a bid to capture add-on sales. So far, apple pie filling and chocolate versions have been some of the first to emerge. Fresher ingredients, such as seasonal, regional berries, fresh basil or mint, sweetened, soft cheese and citrus zest are some great flavour pairings for Italian settings that score a "wow factor." Operators should try smaller sizes in dessert pizzas – either individually sized or small but sharable. 
• Menu Idea: Northwest Berry Pizza: Sprouted-grain crust with blackberries (and cherries, if available), basil, ricotta and lemon zest; dusted with powdered sugar. 

For more information on the ingredients used at the Pizza Expo, contact the Ardent Mills team at 800-851-9618 or email 

Visit the Ardent Mills website, HERE.

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