We all know about spaghetti, penne, rigatoni and other pasta shapes, but did you know there are over 350 different pasta shapes?
That’s right. You can choose from hundreds of different types of pasta for your next authentic Italian meal – whether dining in or out. Read on to learn more about the fascinating world of pasta.
Overall, pasta is classified into different groups. For example there is the long pasta group, the tube pasta group, the soup pasta group, the stuffed pasta group, and the special shapes pasta group. Each group has a number of different kinds of pasta attributed to it.
Spaghetti and angel hair fit into the long group, while penne is considered a tube pasta, orzo and alphabet are soup pastas, ravioli and tortellini are stuffed pasta, and fusilli and farfalle are considered special shape pasta. Not only are there many different shapes, but many types of pasta have more than one name. For example, farfalle is also called bowtie or butterfly pasta.
So why are there so many different pasta shapes?
The answer is simple. Texture and sauce.
The way pasta holds a sauce is paramount to Italian cooking. In general, chefs use different pasta shapes and sizes depending upon what kind of sauce they want to cook. For example, if a chef makes a superior thin sauce, he’ll want to pair it with thin pasta like angel hair.
On the other hand, if he prepares a thick sauce, he will serve it with a thick pasta, such as rigatoni whose grooves will hold the thick sauce for optimum flavor. A cream sauce goes best with flat pasta, such as linguine while a traditional tomato sauce goes best with round shaped pasta like shells.
When it comes to stuffed pasta, ravioli, manicotti, and large shells are just some options. For soups, pastine, which means little pasta, is another great choice.
Why not make an effort to try a pasta shape you’ve never had before? Either choose something new from the menu at your favorite Italian restaurant or try your hand at cooking with a pasta shape you’ve never used.
There are multiple recipe books on the market that focus strictly on pasta shapes, how to cook them, and what sauces to pair with them. By experimenting with different pasta shapes, you’ll open a whole new world of Italian cuisine that you never even knew existed.