Have you ever wondered why there are so many different shapes of pasta? It’s not just for the purpose of adding variety to your plate. In fact, there are more than 600 different pasta shapes, and they’re designed to be paired with different sauces. If you’re not sure where to start in cooking a pasta dish at home, or if you just want to understand more about the pasta that you order at Borracha, we’ll take a look at some of the most common types of pasta below.
Why Pasta Shape Matters
Different pasta shapes are suited to different types of sauces. Larger shapes are often paired with thicker sauces, and skinny, thinner pastas are often paired with light cream sauces. Pastas with tubes through their centers are also great at capturing and holding sauces, as are shells and other textured shapes.
When a pasta is carefully selected and paired with a sauce, it makes the dish easier to eat and ensures that you enjoy more of the sauce.
One of the best examples of how pasta is designed to be functional is ravioli. This pasta is designed to be filled with cheese, meat, or even vegetables, allowing everything to be cooked at once. Because ravioli already contain a flavorful filling, they’re often paired with lighter, simpler sauces.
Farfalle, often called “bowtie pasta,” though the name translates to “butterfly.” These noodles have generous ends that can be used to scoop up chunky sauces. You’ll also often find them used in cold pasta salads.
Fettuccini is a highly popular pasta. The thicker strands resemble ribbons and can hold thicker, creamier sauces. Some chefs also pair fettucini with tomato sauces, and it also goes well with cheese and meat because it’s thick enough to hold those foods.
In contrast, linguini is also a longer pasta strand that is narrower than fettuccini. Linguini pairs well with tomato sauces, as well as seafood and pesto.
Lasagna is a wide, long noodle used for making the dish of the same name. It’s wide and strong enough to support layers of sauce, cheese, vegetables, and other ingredients, and gives the dish a cohesive design that’s practical for both serving and eating the food.
Manicotti are also clearly designed to be functional. These short, large, hollo pasta tubes are designed to be stuffed. Manicotti are often filled with cheese, meat, or vegetables, and are typically covered with sauce. They’re usually ribbed, which helps to hold the sauce.
Orzo pasta is small, smooth, and shaped like grains of rice. It doesn’t do a great job of holding sauces because of its limited surface area and smooth texture, but it’s often added into soups or sometimes incorporated into salads.
Rigatoni are tubular, ridged pieces of pasta. Because of their ridges, rigatoni can be paired with just about any sauce. The tubular design allows sauce to flow into the pasta, so you’ll get more sauce with every bite. You’ll find rigatoni paired with creamy, cheesy, and chunky sauces.
Because spaghetti consists of very thin, long strands, it doesn’t have the surface area and width that would support heavier, thicker sauces like alfredo. Instead, spaghetti is often paired with thinner tomato sauces or olive oil.
Choosing the Right Pasta
With so many different pasta shapes out there, how do you choose the right one? Some pasta shapes are traditionally served with certain sauces, but you can also experiment a little until you find something that works well for the food you’re cooking.
Or, you can take the guesswork out of the process and let the pros at Bottiglia take care of the pasta selection for you. Bottiglia offers the best Italian food in Henderson, and you don’t have to worry about cooking at all. Our menu is full of delicious dishes, like spinach lasagna, linguini vongole, bakes gnocchi arrabbiata, rigatoni and cherry tomato, and much, much more. In true Italian fashion, we’ve carefully selected the right pasta for every dish, whether it’s wider alfredo to support the sauce of our chicken fettuccine alfredo, or the rigatoni that pairs beautifully with the pork meatballs, cherry peppers, and ricotta of our wood baked rigatoni dish.
Come enjoy Italian food in Henderson at Bottiglia, but be sure to make a reservation ahead of time so we have a table ready for you.