Did it ever cross your mind why pasta comes in so many shapes and sizes?
Technically, there’s no “wrong” choice when it comes to putting a specific type of pasta in a recipe. However, you may find that certain shapes or types of pasta are more harmonious in certain dishes. For instance, the same elbow macaroni that absorbs oozy cheese in creamy mac ‘n’ cheese might not be as effective when served with a thick, chunky tomato sauce.
The more you cook and experiment with pasta, the easily you can figure out what types of sauces or preparation methods are most appropriate for each type. Read more to find out how to use some of various pasta shapes.
Conchiglie: These small shells have a large opening, which makes them best for dishes where fillings can get stuck inside. Think hearty meat sauces and creamy pasta salads. Oh, and of course, this shape is ideal for mac and cheese too.
Farfalle: Also known as “bow-tie pasta,” farfalle (which literally translates to “butterflies”) works best in dishes with chunks of vegetables or meat.
Spaghetti: Carbonara (helllllo, creamy cheese sauce with bacon) is the only way to save it. Other decently acceptable sauces, such as tomato (and meatballs) or olive oil-based concoctions, should coat the noodles completely.
Fettuccine: While “Alfredo” is basically fettuccine’s last name, try folding other thick sauces, like creamy tomato with browned sausage or a classic Bolognese, into these wide, flat noodles. They can take it! Red pepper and nut-based romesco is another acceptable (and encouraged) option.
Penne: Make the most of penne’s ridges by throwing them into a casserole with tomato sauce and cheese for a variation of baked ziti
Fusilli: A windy noodle full of cracks deserves a sauce that can stick to it, like pesto. And tomato sauce and Bolognese and olive oil and... we could keep going.
Linguine: Ah, linguine. Slurp it up with a light white wine and butter-based sauce and a protein. Shrimp scampi, anyone? If you're feeling a meal that takes minimal effort, it pairs perfectly with a simple combo of lemon zest, olive oil, and parsley.
Orecchiette: This pasta, which translates to "little ears" in Italian, does well with other bite-size foods, such as broccoli, cauliflower, sausage, and cherry tomatoes. You also can’t go wrong with a quick toss of peas and bacon.
Ziti: The best choice for mac and cheese (and baked ziti, of course)! Here’s why: Ziti's tubular shape is perfect for trapping cheesy sauce. And just so you know, ziti are actually a type of macaroni, so any recipe that calls for ziti can easily be swapped with elbow-shaped noodles.
Did you learn something new today? Let us know in the comments below.