We’ve all made an awesome sauce and put it on noodles, only to realize the entirety of the sauce has pooled at the bottom and the noodles barely have any flavor. You can avoid this by choosing your pasta shapes based on the kind of sauce you’re making.
Long and round: (spaghetti, linguini, vermicelli, and angel hair)
Olive-oil-based sauces work best with these long noodles. They coat the thin surface and cling to it without having too much noodle to drown out the sauce.
Long and flat: (fettucine, tagliatelle, pappardelle, linguine)
While studying in a Texas culinary arts program, you may make some creamy sauces like ragu and bolognaise. They require bigger surfaces in order to stick to the noodles and not just fall to the bottom of the serving dish. Look for ones that are wide and flat, like pappardelle?, for rich, hearty sauces. Alfredo sauce is great on fettucine because it doesn’t require as much noodle to stick to. If you are working with a meaty or heavy sauce, also chose a wider, flat noodle like tagliatelle to hold up the thicker sauce.
Short pasta: (ziti, campanelle, penne, rigatoni)
Short pastas are super versatile. They have plenty of surface to hold creamy sauces but they also work well with chunky ones because meat and veggies get stuck inside them or on them. Pastas with the word “rigate” in them have ridges. This makes them excellent candidates for light sauces like pesto or creamy alfredo.
Large, wide noodles: (lasagna, manicotti, giant shells)
Lasagna noodles are perfect for baked pasta dishes. They layer well with sauce, meat and cheese and give the dish structure. Shells and manicotti can be stuffed with all your favorite ingredients and baked to perfection.
Spiral noodles: (rotini, fusilli, cavitappi)
Looking for a pasta that will hold thin sauces like alfredo but can also handle meaty, heavy varieties? Look for a spiraled noodle like rotini, cavitappi or fusilli. The texture of these types of pasta allows them to gather a lot of sauce and not let it slip off. Plus, they can be easier to eat (no slurping) and are a major favorite with kids. You can also use bigger ingredients with these noodles, like cheese chunks, chickpeas and diced tomatoes. These larger items would fall away from a spaghetti noodle but work well with shorter, more textured options.
Short shapes: (bowtie, wagon wheels, cavatelli)
Noodle shapes that are short and thick have a more dense bite. They work well in pasta salads and with larger ingredients. They have ridges, curls and ruffles that make them sturdier and work well with hearty, meaty sauces.