Despite the first real mention of the Italian staple dish dates back to 13th century, today pasta is one of the world’s most popular foods. It’s versatile, convenient and satisfying – and there are so many different types to choose from.
We all know the feeling of standing in the middle of the supermarket aisle, overwhelmed by how many choices there are when it comes to pasta. Well, whilst it’s true that there are around 350 different types, it’s a little known fact that each shape and style is best suited to specific types of Italian cuisine.
Perhaps one of the most popular pasta types in the world, spaghetti consists of long, thin noodles which can be paired with a wide variety of sauces. Possibly the most well-known dish is Spaghetti Bolognese, where pasta is paired with meat in a marinara sauce. This type of pasta suits meat and vegetable dishes of any sort, or even just garlic and olive oil.
Another popular shape, penne has a round, tube-like structure, with diagonal cuts at either end. This is why it’s best served in dishes that have a relatively thick, creamy sauce as it penetrates the tube and holds the sauce well, such as Penne Arrabbiata. This is also the best type of pasta to use in pasta bake dishes.
This pasta has a spiral, corkscrew-like shape that pairs perfectly with rich meat sauces or chunky vegetables as the chunks get caught in the crevices of the twirls giving the dish a lovely texture. They can also be baked into casseroles or pasta bakes for the same reason.
Rotini is a commonly known corkscrew-shaped pasta. It has a tighter spiral than fusilli. But like fusilli, it catches all types of sauces well. From thick and meaty to oil-based to creamy, it can handle it all.
With a simple shape, macaroni are small tubes of pasta that are cut into short lengths and often curved. They’re found flooded in a minestrone or cheese sauce, ready to be thrown into the oven for a good old Mac ‘n Cheese so they don’t really need to hold sauces.
This type of pasta can either come flat or pre-rolled into large tubes, which are then stuffed with various fillings, such as spinach and ricotta cheese. This large pasta also pairs well with a simple, light sauce like a tomato.
Known as ‘bow-tie’ pasta and translating to ‘butterfly’ from Italian, this pasta is shaped like exactly that. It’s a relatively small pasta, with a large surface area which is why it best pairs with a slice of cheese, or rich tomato sauce as the ‘wings’ hold the sauce perfectly. It also compliments a cold pasta salad and is sometimes served with grilled chicken