Pasta shapes to suit your Pasta Sauce

Although the flavor of pasta doesn’t vary much, whether it’s a short cut like fafalle or a long strand like linguine, the way these shapes interact with sauce makes a big difference in the finished dish. Here’s an overview of several popular shapes and which sauces they are best suited to.

Capellini and angel-hair pasta : Because the noodles are long and thin, these pastas go best with a light sauce that won’t weigh down the pasta. Try it with olive oil, garlic, and lemon, or a simple tomato-basil sauce.

Spaghetti : The most famous cut of pasta, it pairs nicely with simple sauces like tomato, arrabbiata, or puttanesca or with seafood and herbs.

Linguine : These long, flat pasta strands stand up to sturdier sauces. Typical matches would be a pesto, tomato, or mushroom sauce, or one with flavorful ingredients like shellfish.

Fettuccine : Literally these are “little ribbons,” similar to linguine but thicker and wider. It is a suitable match for many sauces, included those that are cream-based or made with meat.

Farfalle : These pretty butterfly shapes taste best with simple olive oil- or tomato-based sauces that may incorporate ingredients such as peppers, chicken, or arugula. They are also great for pasta salad because the shape is fun and bite-sized.

Rotelle : Shaped like wagon wheels, rotelle are popular with kids. I serve them with an artichoke pesto, but they can also be dressed with Bolognese or a hearty tomato sauce with sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and capers.

Fusilli bucati : Similar to fusilli, which look like corkscrews, these noodles look more like bedsprings. They are a good choice for thick and hearty sauces because all the “goodness” gets trapped inside the spiral rather than just coating the exterior.

Elbows : A classic for mac and cheese, this basic shape is also perfect with sour cream- or mayonnaise-based sauces for pasta salads.

Conchiglie (shells) : These come in various sizes, from very large ones meant for stuffing to very small ones, which are called conchigliette. Shells are good with meat sauces, and the small ones work in any dish where you’d use elbow macaroni.

Rigatoni : This wide, ridged, tube-shaped pasta has holes on either end that are large enough to capture pieces of meat or vegetables in a sauce. In addition, this kind of pasta is perfect for baked dishes made with sauce and cheese.

Penne : These small tubes may be smooth or ridged (rigate). Penne is best used in soups, pasta salads, and with thicker sauces and casseroles, as the ingredients and sauces can penetrate the inside of the pasta. Penne rigate is ideal for meat, vegetable, or butter-and-oil-based sauces because the ridges hold the sauce.



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