People are astonished when you tell them how important it is to have the right pasta shape with the right sauce. The shapes consist of the same main ingredients and taste very similar but it does make a huge difference. The right shape can make a good sauce great and the wrong shape can dampen the appeal of even the best sauce. Here’s a simple guide to follow
Shaped pastas such as Fusilli and Farfalle match well with all varieties of sauces, especially those with texture. Pieces of meat, bean or vegetables are captured in the fissures of the pasta and nestle in the twists.
Long, thin dried pasta such as Spaghetti, Capellini or Linguine, pair best with olive-oil-based sauces. These long expanses of pasta need lots of lubrication. Oil coats the pasta completely without drowning it. Thicker strands, like Fettuccine and Tagliatelle, can stand up to cream sauces and Ragùs.
Short, tubular pastas such as Penne Rigate, Macaroni or Rigatoni go well with sauces that are thick or chunky. Keep the size of the ingredients in mind for instance tiny macaroni will not hold a chickpea, while Rigatoni may feel too large for a simple tomato sauce, where Penne would work better. Ridged pastas provide even more texture for sauces to cling to.
It’s easier to mix fresh pasta with sauces rather than dried. The differences of shapes and texture are less pronounced in fresh pasta than in dried pasta and fresh pasta carries and absorbs any sauce more readily than does dried. Fresh pasta generally follows the same rules as dried, the flatter and longer shapes combine well with olive oil and cream sauces, while sturdier shapes, such as Orecchiette work well with chunkier and stronger flavoured sauces. Tomato and simple cream and butter sauces are universal and will go well with basically all pasta.