What’s with all those pasta shapes? Looking on the shelves of the supermarket, the range of different shapes and colors of pasta can be really overwhelming.
With over 500 different types of pasta available, it is one of the most popular foods in the world today. It is incredibly versatile and can be served in a ton of different ways.
A few packets of dried pasta kept in the cupboard can be the basis for a wide range of easy-to-produce meals. (See links at the bottom of this post)
You can buy pasta dried and in packets from the supermarket. Many supermarkets and specialty stores also sell fresh and frozen pasta. Pasta: Dry, Fresh or Frozen has some great tips on helping you to decide what to buy.
Which pasta with which sauce?
The best thing about pasta is that there are no hard and fast rules, but a few guidelines for matching your sauce to a particular pasta can be helpful.
Long Pastas – like tagliatelle, spaghetti …
…and linguine – needs lots of lubrication, so they work best with olive-oil-based sauces which coat the pasta completely without drowning it.
Thicker strands, like fettuccine and tagliatelle, can stand up to cream sauces and ragùs (also known as bolognaise).
Shaped pastas such as fusilli (twists)…
…and conchiglle (shells)…
…go well with all sort of sauces, but especially those with texture (lumps!). If you think about it those lumps of meat, vegetable, or bean are going to get caught up in the crevices and twists. (Which is a GOOD thing!)
Short, tubular pastas like rigatoni, penne…
or cavatappi …
…go well with sauces that are thick or chunky. Keep the size of the ingredients in mind: tiny macaroni won’t hold a chickpea, while rigatoni may feel too large for a simple tomato sauce, where penne would work better. Ridged pastas provide even more texture for sauces to cling to.
There is really only one type of broad, flat pasta used for baking in the oven (al forno) and that is lasagna. These sheets are designed to be baked between layers of sauce in the oven.
Archimedes’ Laboratory has colorful drawings of just about every imaginable shape of pasta.
Here are a few more startcooking.com pasta posts:
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