Which type of pasta for which type of sauce?

Did you know there are over 300 different pastas available these days? No wonder it can be a bit confusing about which to use when cooking. Here are some of the most successful pasta pairings!

June 6, 2023

Long pasta

Spaghetti: Perfect pairings include tomato-based sauces, light, creamy sauces, pesto (and of course the classic meatballs!) Spaghetti with Prosciutto and Green Beans

Angel hair: The long, delicate strands of angel hair pasta are a great match for very light sauces such as fresh tomato and olive oil. The thin strands can be overpowered and broken by thick, meaty sauces.

Bucatini: Thicker and sturdier than standard spaghetti, this has hollow tubes, great with a thick tomato sauce or a heavier ragu.

Tagliatelle & fettucine: Flat, wide noodles that are commonly used in creamy pasta dishes such as carbonara. They also work well with meat or vegetable-based sauces.

Pappardelle: the wider cousin of tagliatelle and fettucine! Originally created to carry meaty Tuscan sauces. This suits heavier sauces such as creamy mushroom or stroganoff. Lamb Rosemary Rag Pasta

Linguine: Like spaghetti but slightly wider and flatter. Linguine is often served with seafood, light sauces or simple garlic and olive oil.

Tube/twisted pasta

Casarecce: a long tube shape with a groove down the middle, it’s excellent for holding on to some of the runnier sauces and is ideal for dishes studded with chunks of meat or vegetables.

Penne: Short, cylindrical pasta with angled ends. The ridges on penne help hold chunky sauces, making it ideal for meaty sauces, tomato-based sauces, and baked pasta dishes. Broccoli Walnut and Blue Cheese Pasta

Rigatoni: Large, ridged tubes that hold up well with hearty and chunky sauces.

The larger the tube, the chunkier you can go with your sauces.

Fusili: thick, spiral shaped pasta that has nooks and crannies great for thick sauces to cling to – such as those with chunks of meat or fish. Also great for pasta salads.

Macaroni: Small, hollow tubes that are a classic choice for cheese sauces. They also work well in pasta salads and added to casseroles.

Special pasta shapes

Farfalle: The name means ‘butterfly’ – but is more commonly known as bowties! This pairs well with creamy or oil-based sauces. It's also popular in pasta salads.

Rotelle: Meaning ‘little wheels’ but also called wagon wheel pasta! Kids love these and they are great with simple tomato or vegetable sauces; they also be used for macaroni cheese in place of macaroni.

Orzo: Small, rice-shaped pasta that is versatile and can be used in soups, salads, or baked risotto-style dishes.

Pastina (stars): This simply means ‘small pasta’ can be used in the same way as orzo.

Conchiglie: You guessed it! This means seashell. These come in a variety of sizes from tiny to enormous! The larger shells can be stuffed for baking with a cheesy or meaty filling (like cannelloni) and the smaller ones are good in soups or stews.

Orecchiette: This means ‘little ears’ and is perfect for catching the tasty sauce. Great for oil and veggie sauces rather than a heavy, hearty sauce where they can get swamped.

Remember, these are only general guidelines; feel free to experiment and mix different pasta shapes with various sauces to create your own unique combinations!

Pasta – not just for eating! Try these craft activities with the kids!

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