THE DILEMMA Tubes, twists, ribbons, shells, round, flat, short and long grocery shelves are packed with pasta in different shapes and sizes. How will you know which one to use for a certain dish?
WHAT TO DO Matching the right pasta shape to the right sauce certainly makes for a better dish. Here are a few simple tips to keep in mind. The versatile spaghetti can be matched with meaty tomato, creamy seafood, broth or oil-based dishes. Quick-cooking, delicate angel hair pasta is best paired with thin oil, tomato, or broth-based sauces.
Linguine and fettuccine pair well with creamy sauces that are medium to thick in consistency. Tube-shaped pastas like penne, rigatoni, and ziti work best with full-flavored sauces as the ridges allow them to retain sauces well. Try cream-based, chunky meat, or thick tomato sauces.
Jumbo shells, manicotti, and lasagna are known for their heartiness and solid consistency, so these are best stuffed or layered for baking. Remember to use a lot of sauce to provide enough moisture for the pasta to cook. Pair farfalle (bow tie pasta) with creamy sauces, or toss with olive oil, herbs, and finely diced vegetables. Elbow macaroni and fusilli are great for salads, and macaroni can also be used for everyone’s favorite sopas.