Italian Pasta Shapes

Many people had often asked me how to choose Italian pasta shapes for a particular dish.

Well, in Italy there is a fine art to matching pasta shapes and sauces.
It’s not a matter to be snob that an Italian could through a dish of pasta rather than eat it with some wrong chosen sauce.

In Italy it’s much more about tradition and an Italian could simply say:

“What ever does the name of the dish stand for if you don’t respect the full tradition?”.

Yes, behind many Italian dishes there’s a name that recalls deep meaning connecting sometimes with history or local Italian habits, practice and of course availability of ingredients.

Most common short Italian pasta shapes

Italians have created houndreds of pasta shapes, so lets give a look just a few of them. These are the more extensively used among Italians today.

Gnocchi sardi, Gnocchi, Gramigna, Mezze maniche, Nastrini, Orecchiette, Pipe, Penne lisce, Ruote, Trucioli, Strascinati, Tortiglioni

But, you can be more loose…

Yes, following just one general rule you can be more loose when matching pasta shapes and Pasta Sauces.

You should be able to eat the pasta and sauce easily in each mouthful. So, what does this mean?
The texture of the sauce should work with the pasta shape like this:

– Short tubular pasta shapes go well trapping chunkier sauces. But then, if you use sauces with very large chunks of meat then best are the shells, rigatoni, or other large tubes. – Sauces with small chunks make more sense with fusilli or penne.
Anyway, remember no matter the shape of the pasta or the type of sauce, the pasta and not the sauce should be the focal point. So, eat pasta with sauce, not sauce with some pasta.

Cavatelli, Chifferoni, Chiocciole, Ditalini, Fusilli, Farfalle, Eliche, Galletti, Garganelli

Long pasta shapes…

In general, long strands are best with smooth sauces. But, wider long noodles such as fettuccine, can more easily support chunkier sauces than can very thin noodles like spaghetti.

Bucatini, Fettuccine, Fusilli lunghi, Maccheroni al ferretto

Mafaldine or Reginette, Mostaccioli, Spaghetti, Strozzacavalli, Trenette, Zite

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