Not all pasta shapes were created equal! Here's how to pair pasta shapes with their most complimentary sauces.
All pasta shapes exist for a specific reason and purpose - and that purpose is generally how they're intended to be eaten! Every pasta shape brings its own uses to the table (literally) and here's how to ensure you're getting the most bang for your bite.
Long & Skinny Pasta
Thinner pastas: Angel Hair, Spaghettini
Uses: Very light sauces and bright flavors, like checca. Heavy sauces, even a simple tomato sauce, will overwhelm the thin noodles and potentially overcook the thin noodles very quickly.
Thicker pastas: Spaghetti, Fusilli Lunghi, Bucatini
Uses: Tomato sauce like simple pomodoro, light cream sauces like lemon spaghetti, or light sauces with finely chopped or small ingredients like marinated cherry tomato pasta. Reserve heavier, creamier sauces for thicker and wider pasta shapes.
Flat And Wide Pasta
Thinner pastas: Linguine, Fettuccine, Tagliatelle
Uses: Creamy sauces like alfredo, tomato sauces, pastas with light proteins such as linguine with walnuts and anchovy, linguine with shrimp and asparagus, and crab and cherry tomato fettuccine.
Wider pastas: Pappardelle, Lasagne, Manfredi Lunghi
Uses: Hefty sauces, ragus such as Bolognese or sausage ragu, rich sauces such as Pesto alla Genovese
Short, Tubular Pasta
Uses: Bolognese and ragus with ingredients that can get caught in the hollow centers for a perfect bite, like rigatoni with pork ragout. Baked pastas such as Giada's baked penne with roasted vegetables, or baked rigatoni with sausage.
Short, Curved Pasta
Uses: Pasta salads such as Romesco Pasta Salad with Burrata, Creamy Pasta Salad and more. Hot pasta dishes with small ingredients, like Giada's pasta with mini meatballs, or sausage and sun-dried tomato pasta - recipes that have individually chopped ingredients than actual sauce.
Uses: Brothy soups with chopped ingredients, like Italian Wedding Soup and comforting Pastina Soup. Orzo in particular is often cooked in similar methods to rice, like Giada's one-pot creamy orzo, or orzo-stuffed peppers. Avoid cooking these pasta shapes with heavy sauces that they could get lost in.