Dining out at a restaurant that serves a cuisine that is unfamiliar to you can be daunting for many. Unless you get the time to do a little research about what to order, you will be completely left to the mercy of your server. While pasta comes only second to pizza in terms of popularity across the globe, it wouldn’t hurt to be able to tell the difference between fettuccine and pappardelle, would it? So, here goes our list of common pasta types and the types of sauces they are normally served with.
Spaghetti: Most of us would be familiar with spaghetti – the long, thin, cylindrical pasta – thanks to the Italian-American dish – spaghetti and meatballs. Spaghetti is usually served with a tomato-based sauce that may or may not contain meat.
Macaroni: While macaroni refers to all tubular, square-ended pasta, it is the elbow-macaroni that is usually used in the famous mac and cheese. They can be thrown in with any cheese-based sauce. Macaroni is also used in casseroles, salads and bakes.
Penne: Penne is the plural of penna, a Latin word which is also the source of the English word ‘pen’. This tubular pasta has its edges cut diagonally and comes in two types- penne lisce and penne rigate. The former is the smooth kind and the latter is the furrowed kind. These ridges, as well as the hollows inside, collect the sauce that it is tossed in, rendering amazing flavor with every bite.
Rigatoni: Although rigatoni may look like penne, it is thicker and much larger. Also, notice the edges. Rigatoni has square-cut edges while penne is diagonally cut. It is usually served with a thick sauce or used in baked dishes.
Farfalle: If you are a fan of the salad bar at buffets, you would have seen this one. Farfalle gets its name from the Italian word meaning ‘butterfly’. It is also called the bow-tie pasta and is mostly used in cold pasta salads.
Fusilli: These are small, tightly-wound spiral pasta. The spirals help to capture the sauce, and hence, goes with all types of sauces! Because they look like corkscrews, fusilli is also referred to as ‘corkscrew pasta’.
Ravioli: Ravioli is a type of filled pasta, often in the shape of a square. The filling is usually meat or ricotta, served in a tomato-based sauce or sometimes simply with a sage-butter dressing. Ravioli can also be tossed in a broth or a soup to add some heartiness.
Lasagna: Thin, long sheets of pasta with ridged edges. That is lasagna or sheet pasta for you! This famous Italian casserole dish is baked with layers of meaty tomato sauce and spinach-ricotta. Did you know that there are lasagna roll-ups too?
Gnocchi: Gnocchi is an Italian classic. But is it a type of pasta? Surely, not! So why have we added it to our list of pasta types? Because restaurants tend to list them under their pasta section! Gnocchi are thick, dough dumplings that are made of potatoes, egg, and flour. They are hand-rolled and go with all sorts of sauces such as the hearty pesto or even the simple butter-sage-Parmesan.
Fettuccine: Fettuccine or ribbon pasta is flat and wide like a ribbon, and usually served with thin sauces. The length of the pasta allows it to soak up the sauce, hence it goes perfectly with alfredo and butter-based sauces. Creamy bacon or shrimp fettuccine are popular preparations.
Pappardelle: While fettuccine is 1/4th of an inch wide, pappardelle is 3/4th to 1 inch wide. They belong to the same family, but pappardelle is traditionally served with a ragu of wild boar! Ragu is the collective term used to refer to meaty sauces that usually contain onions, tomatoes and red wine.
Conchiglie: Conchiglie is the family of shell-shaped pasta. Their concave shape and external ridges allow them to hold all sauces. They come in different sizes too—the small ones are usually served in a chunky, meat sauce and the large ones are often stuffed with ricotta and baked.
Now that your pasta knowledge is up to grade, you can bravely order a fettuccine alla vodka and know exactly what will show up on your plate!