Pasta is one of life’s simple pleasures. But with hundreds of unique types of pasta to pick from, how do you choose the perfect noodle for Cacio e Pepe or Shrimp Scampi? This guide will help streamline the possibilities and walk you through 7 popular pasta categories and the sauces that pair best with them.
Not only is homemade pasta delicious but it’s easier than ever with tools like a KitchenAid® stand mixer and KitchenAid® pasta attachments. These multi-tasking attachments can cut pasta into ribbons or strings and press it into flat sheets, or shapes.
See how easy it is to make pasta with the KitchenAid® 3-Part Pasta Roller & Cutter Set.
1. Strand pasta
The ever popular Spaghetti, which means “thin string” or “twine” in Italian is part of the group of strand pastas, some of the most frequently used noodles in the world. These types of pastas are cut into long, cylindrical rods of varying thicknesses. In addition to Spaghetti, this group also contains a variety of sizes ranging from thick – Spaghettoni – to the very thinnest round rod pasta – Capellini d'Angelo. Strand pastas are ideal for sauces that coat the noodles evenly like olive oil with a little garlic and some chopped fresh herbs or a bright tomato sauce. For a simple, mouthwatering way to use a strand pasta, try this classic recipe for Cacio e Pepe.
Keep in mind that the sauce should lead the way. The chunkier the sauce, the heavier and thicker the noodle types should be, and conversely, a lighter sauce works best with thinner, lighter pastas. The same goes for pairing proteins with pastas, a heavier noodle can take on a heavier meat and lighter noodles should be paired with lighter proteins like seafood or chicken.
2. Ribbon pasta
Wider and flatter than string pastas, these types of pasta noodles contain the beloved Fettuccine as well as Linguine and Pappardelle, among others. As a general rule of thumb, these pastas work well with creamy sauces because the greater surface area of these noodles can stand up to rich sauces. The thinner, narrower noodles in this group like Fettuccine and Linguine are best paired with lighter cream sauces like Alfredo and lighter proteins, including seafood. Because Pappardelle is one of the thicker and wider ribbon pastas, it can take on more robust and meatier ragus. For a bright twist on a favorite try this recipe for Sun Dried Tomato Fettuccine.
3. Tubular pasta
One of the most versatile types of pasta noodles on the planet, tubular pastas, come in both long forms like Bucatini, short forms like Rigatoni and its narrower “cousin” Tortiglioni and small tube forms like Macaroni. If you see the word “Rigate” following the pasta name, as in Penne Rigate, that means the pasta noodle has ridges which are perfect for capturing a sauce like pesto.
The long, thin versions of these pastas, like Bucatini and Perciatelli have a hole running through their centers which makes them great for trapping looser sauces.
And because these noodles are more substantial than a typical string pasta, they can take on more flavorful ingredients like red pepper flakes or pancetta. You can use the shorter pastas in a variety of ways including in soups, salads and casseroles. And remember, the larger the tube, the more texture and “substance” the pasta can take on. This soulful Pasta Fagioli recipe uses lots of chunky vegetables, white beans and a short tubular pasta for a hearty dinner on a cold night.
4. Stuffed pasta
These delicious noodles usually come in the form of pockets or rolls created to hold a filling. Cannelloni, Tortellini and Ravioli are some of the most well-known stuffed pasta options and these kinds of pasta are frequently filled with chopped meats, vegetables or cheeses and topped with a simple sauce. Pierogi are a traditional Polish stuffed pasta that you’ll find filled with meat, vegetables, cheese or fruit. Laminated Parsley Ravioli with Chive and Chevre makes an elegant dish for dinner guests or date night.
5. Micro pasta
These mini pastas can help create maximum flavor when incorporated into soups and salads. Use Orzo, a rice shaped pasta, to add texture and personality to tomato soup and minestrone or Ditalini in a summery seafood salad. Pastina, Acini di Pepe and Fregola, a semolina pasta from the island of Sardinia, are tiny pastas that are often used to add body to soups but they’re also delicious served with a simple butter sauce and a little grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
These festive Salad Jars with Tomato Cream Dressing are perfect for a summer picnic. The recipe calls for Pearl Couscous, a middle eastern pasta that adds a chewy bite to the dish.
Pasta can be divided into two simple classifications, fresh or dried. Fresh pasta is typically a simple dough consisting of eggs and all-purpose or high-gluten flour that’s kneaded, pressed between rollers and cut. Dry pasta uses water, semolina flour and is usually made without eggs. The ingredients are mixed into a paste which is then extruded through molds or cut into shapes and air dried at a low temp for several days until the moisture has evaporated.
6. Unique pasta shapes
There’s no shortage of fun, unusual pasta noodles to fuel your creativity. Find pastas shaped like ears (Orecchiette), radiators (Radiatore), bow ties or butterflies (Farfalle), seashells (Conchiglie) – and the list goes on. Because these types of pasta shapes have a substantial “bite” to them and they often have ridges, small holes or crevices, they make ideal vessels for holding rich, hearty sauces as well as chunky meats and vegetables.
This Shrimp and Veggie Pasta Salad uses shells to capture bits of seafood and veggies in a tangy Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette dressing.
7. Spiralized vegetable noodles
A delicious way to add more veggies into your diet or to put a low-carb twist on some of your favorite pasta dishes is with spiralized vegetables. Zucchini noodles have been getting a lot of love for a while now and their mild taste can take on many different flavors and sauces, making them super versatile as well as tasty.
But the spiralizing craze doesn’t end with zucchini; there are dozens of vegetables that can be spiralized into “noodles.” Carrots, squash, parsnips, peppers and sweet potatoes are just a handful of the veggies that can breathe new life into a timeworn pasta dish.
AMPLIFY THE POSSIBILITIES WITH ATTACHMENTS
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