If there is pasta in your store cupboard, a quick and easy meal is just minutes away. Pasta can taste delicious on its own, simply seasoned and drizzled with olive oil, or it can be the vehicle for a variety of sauces. Convenient and versatile, there are dozens of types of pasta to choose from, and each has sauces it works best with.
Pasta comes in many shapes and some have several names. The most common are the long types of pasta, all of which are long, straight, and straw like but descend in thickness from: spaghetti, thin spaghetti, vermicelli, capellini. Other long types are flattened with widths that narrow: egg noodles, widest, fettuccini, macaroni ribbons, linguine.
This is one occasion when fresh is not always best. If making your own pasta or buying it fresh from the deli then fresh is superior. However, if buying pasta from the supermarket, dried pasta is usually the best option, because the fresh pasta is often too wet.
Choose a good brand, preferably one made in Italy, where it is made with durum wheat.
There are 4 different types of pasta:
LONG PASTA, RIBBON PASTA, SHORT PASTA, TULUBAR PASTA, STUFFED PASTA
SPAGHETTI ("strings"): Long, thin, round, and rigid. Probably the most common of all shapes, and extremely versatile.
LINGUINELI ("small tongues"): Similar to spaghetti in appearance, but flat rather than round. Can be used whenever a recipe calls for spaghetti.
CAPELLI D'ANGELO ("angel hair"): Very fine strands. Not sturdy enough for sauce, so best added to soups and broths.
OTHER TYPES: Fusilli lunghi (long fusilli), spaghettini (thin spaghetti).
BEST WITH: Oil-based or tomato sauces are ideal, as each strand of pasta gets well coated. Perfect tossed with seafood, especially linguine, which is wonderful paired with clams.
TAGLIATELLE (to "cut"): This wide, flat pasta is the most well-known of the ribbon pastas. It is often flavored with spinach to produce a green pasta, or tomato to produce a red one.
PAPPARDELLE (pappare = "to stuff oneself"): The widest of the ribbon pastas. As a rule of thumb, big pasta needs a big sauce.
FETTUCCINI ("little ribbons"): Long and flat, similar to tagliatelle, but a little wider.
OTHER TYPES: Lasagne.
BEST WITH: A robust chunky sauce. Meat- or tomato based sauces such as ragù work well, as do thick, cream-based sauces, which are heavy, and cling well to the wide ribbons.
FARALLE ("butterflies"): Look like little butterflies, or bows, and have a ridged edge. They are quite delicate, and go well with light sauces.
FUSILLI ("little spindles"): Look like short springs. A good choice to serve in a salad, as they holds their shape well. They often come in a variety of colors.
CONCHIGLIE ("shells"): These are available in a variety of sizes, either very small (which are added to soups), or really large ones that look like sea shells.
OTHER TYPES: Orecchiette, trofie, strozzapreti, radiatore.
BEST WITH: Short pasta is fairly dense, so it can take chunky sauces, and works particularly well with rich meat sauces, and oily sauces. If serving with a vegetable sauce, cut the vegetables to match the size of the pasta shapes.
PENNE ("quills"): The most well-known tubular pasta. They have pointed ends, and are either smooth or ridged. A versatile pasta shape, it can be combined with numerous sauces.
RIGATONI ("ridged"): Very similar to penne, but ridged, and without the pointed "pen" ends.
MACARONI ("dumpling"): Hollow, curved pasta tubes that can be small or large. Very sturdy, they go well with a cheese sauce.
OTHER TYPES: Ziti, cavatappi, gigantoni.
BEST WITH: These shapes are ideal for trapping and holding thick and chunky rich sauces. Serve with a heavy meat ragù, or a chunky arrabbiata sauce.
RAVIOLI (to "wrap"): Widely known, and usually bought fresh. Delicious flat parcels of egg pasta, they can be filled with meat, cheese, vegetables, or seafood, depending on the region in which they're made.
TORTELLINI (torta = "cake"): Ring-shaped pasta, filled and pinched in the middle. They can be bought dried or fresh, and are often filled with classic combinations, such as spinach and ricotta cheese.
OTHER TYPES: Cannelloni, tortelloni.
BEST WITH: This depends on what the pasta is stuffed with. Ravioli stuffed with pumpkin and ricotta cheese is delicious with melted butter and sage, for instance. Make sure the sauce complements and doesn't drown the flavor of the filling.
How to make your own pasta dough, store pasta..
Preparing fresh pasta from scratch definitely ranks among..
Here are 7 important tips on how to make perfect pasta..
Learn all about how to make gnocchi..
Recipe for homemade ravioli and cheese ravioli filling..
Spaetzle are quite simple to prepare..
Long pasta, ribbon, short, tulubar pasta and stuffed pasta..
How to make Chinese dumpling wrappers in 5 steps..
Rolling, stretching, cutting pasta dough by hand....
Dough in various shapes, stuffed with meat, cheese, fish..
Pictures of different types of pasta shapes..
When you're shopping for lasagna noodles, you are faced with several options. Domestic pasta is on the thick side, whereas imported pasta is thinner and more delicate. Choosing one over the other is just a matter of personal preference. No-boil pasta eliminates the need for boiling the pasta before assembling the lasagna. It has been precooked, then dried: During baking it soaks up liquid from the other ingredients and softens. Follow the instructions on the package for cooking no-boil noodles properly.
Noodles are a worldwide favorite. In Asia, the purported area of their origin, they are consumed for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and they are simmered in broth, stir fried with meat and/or vegetables, and deep fried. They are categorized not by country but by the type of flour-bean, rice, or wheat-from which they are made. Asian noodles are not interchangeable because some require different amounts of presoaking or precooking, and others do not. For the best results,use what your recipe calls for. Asian noodles are available fresh, dried, and frozen at Asian markets, specialty stores, and some well-stocked supermarkets.