Do all pasta shapes taste the same?


Do all pasta shapes taste the same?

A good pasta dish is a great, versatile meal…but when it comes to the fatidic question of whether you should grab penne rather than linguini from your cupboard shelf, the answer is not as simple as “it doesn’t really change anything”. As a matter of fact, it does! Using the most appropriate pasta shape will compliment your condiment of choice and bring the best out of your dish.

The general rule is: “as the size and thickness of the pasta increases, the complexity of the sauce increases as well”.

We can divide pasta in 2 big categories: dried pasta and fresh pasta. Both of this categories include pasta shapes that can be “long” (exaple: spaghetti) or “short” (example: penne) and textures that are “rough” (example: rigatoni) or “smooth” (example: penne lisce).

Most of us know that the main difference between dried and fresh pasta is that fresh pasta must be kept in the fridge at a temperature between 2/4 ° C, while dried pasta can sit in your cupboard and has a much longer shelf life. If you are wandering which one has the lower caloric content there are two key factors to consider:

  • The weight: at an even amount of grams, dry pasta has a higher caloric density (350 kcal / 100 g) than fresh pasta (270 kcal / 100 g). The main difference between the two types of pasta lies in the water content. Fresh pasta is more humid, therefore less caloric than dry pasta in which the nutrients are concentrated and the calories increase. 250 grams of dried pasta are enough to feed approximately 4 people, while 250 grams of fresh pasta would only fill 3 plates.
  • The cooking process – It would therefore seem that fresh pasta is less caloric than dry pasta but in fact things change during the cooking process.  While cooking, pasta absorbs water, a fundamental ingredient for lowering calories: the more water the pasta absorbs during cooking process, the less calories will have when cooked. Fresh pasta absorbs less water than dry pasta which, being dehydrated by nature, attracts more liquid. Once cooked, both fresh and dry pasta will have more or less the same caloric content per 100 grams.

Both fresh and dried pasta come in different formats, which we know as “long pasta” and “short pasta”, and both long and short pasta shapes can have a smooth surface or a rougher or striped one. Smooth pasta is not great at retaining sauces that aren’t completely homogeneous, but they are very good with creamier, richer condiments. Rough pasta on the other hand, is perfect for Ragù alla Bolognese and all those sauces that contain bits of ingredients, since is great at holding condiment.

Here’s a few condiments ideas for long and short pasta:

Best condiments for long pasta (such as spaghetti, tagliatelle, linguine..)

  • Sauces with meat and fish such as Ragù alla Bolognese and Pasta allo Scoglio are the most suitable for tagliatelle and fettuccine, while larger, thicker and coarser shapes – for example pappardelle – are ideal with rich and full-bodied sauces such as game ragù and sauces with porcini mushrooms, walnuts, cheeses or truffle. Spaghetti and linguine are best paired with simpler and lighter sauces, such as tomato sauce, pesto, aglio olio e peperoncino.


Best condiments for short pasta (such as penne, rigatoni, farfalle, fusilli…)

  • As a general rule, short striped pasta shapes maximize their potential with dense and not very homogeneous sauces, whether they are meat sauce or vegetable sauces. As previously mentioned, pasta shapes with a smooth surface, on the other hand, prefers egg-based sauces or creamy sauces. More specifically, fusilli pairs perfectly with light sauces, fresh tomatoes, and vegetables. If you love creamy sauces or sauces with cheese, farfalle is the best pasta shape for this kind of sauces. The Sardinian gnocchi are delicious with fresh tomatoes sauces and basil or seafood.

Here’s all you need to know about pairing your condiments to different pasta shapes. If you would like to read more articles like this one, visit our blog.


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