Tips From The Kitchen: Matching Pasta & Sauce Correctly

Pasta is one of our favorite go-to foods. Not only is it relatively inexpensive, it is typically easy to prepare and by changing the sauce, or ingredients added to the dish, it can be very versatile. Although any pasta shape can be used for any recipe, certain pasta shapes are better to use than others for particular sauces. The correct pasta shape will really allow the recipe to shine.


Here are a few guidelines, from our kitchen, when it comes to choosing the best pasta for a particular dish.

Long strands of noodles (angel hair, spaghetti, spaghettoni) are best for smooth or light sauces and pestos. This Citrus Teriyaki Pasta is best with angel hair or spaghetti.


Wide noodles (fettuccine, tagliatelle) are best for a more hearty, chunky sauce. Like this easy Penne with Eggplant – perfect for an effortless “Meatless Monday.”


Short/medium tubular noodles (elbow macaroni, penne, ziti) are best to trap chunky or cheesy sauces. Cue the Pasta with Truffle Cream Sauce – you won’t want to miss a single drop of this cheesy, truffle sauce.


Follow these other great tips while making pasta:

  • Make sure you have a large enough pot and enough water to cook your pasta in for best results (rule of thumb is four quarts of water for each pound of pasta).
  • Salt your water – this helps to flavor the pasta.
  • Your pasta is done when it is tender, but still firm to the bite. This is also known as al dente (al-DEN-tay), the Italian phrase meaning “to the tooth.”
  • Reserve some of the water the pasta is cooked in. You can use the water to thin your sauce if needed. This technique works well because of the starch left in the water from the cooked pasta.
  • Remove pasta from cooking water and shake off excess water, then place pasta in the pot that your sauce is heated or cooked in to toss and coat.

Whether your pasta dish is served hot, cold or room temperature, pick the right pasta shape for the best flavor delivery of your sauce. Dig in!

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