Guide to Italian Pasta

Homemade pasta might be the first thing you think of when someone mentions Italian cuisine. Though there is much more to the Italian menu, pasta is certainly a favorite. But pasta isn’t a one size fits all affair. There are many different shapes and types of pasta. The shape isn’t the only difference to the pasta, some work well to hold a hearty sauce and others are perfect in weight and taste for a light soup. Here we’ll cover some of the most popular types of pasta and what the best uses are for each.

Guide to Italian Pasta

  • Angel Hair. Angel Hair pasta is a very thin, long pasta. The real name is Capelli d’Angelo, and it’s a bit thinner than Capellini, much thinner than spaghetti, though the same shape and length. This type of light pasta can be used for a number of dishes, though it doesn’t work as well with heavy sauces. It’s often used with seafood or as a side dish.
  • Capellini. A bit less delicate than Angel Hair but not as thick as spaghetti, Capellini is also used for lighter dishes.
  • Farfalle. Often called “Bow Tie Pasta”, for its shape, Farfalle is made in small and larger size. This is a heartier pasta and can be used in thicker, cream sauces. This type of pasta is often used in soups as it holds its shape and texture well.
  • Fettuccine. Fettuccine is most often paired with Alfredo sauce (a thick, cream and cheese based Northern favorite). This pasta is long like Spaghetti but wide and flat. It’s a hearty, thicker type of pasta.
  • Gnocchi. Gnocchi can be classified as a pasta though it’s often made with potato. Gnocchi are small and very similar to dumplings. They offer a hearty and very filling dish and can be paired with many different types of sauces.
  • Lasagna. This noodle is made to make the favorite dish, Lasagna. The pasta is long, about three or four inches wide, and flat, often with ridges on the sides. The pasta is laid in layers over different types of filling to make a casserole – in the case of Lasagna the filling consists of ricotta and different cheeses, meat, and tomato sauce.
  • Linguine. Linguine is also a long type of pasta, similar to Spaghetti though thicker. This pasta is often used with seafood and oil based sauces rather than thicker cream sauces.
  • Mostaccioli. Mostaccioli is tube shaped and cut on an angle on each side. This hearty pasta works well with thick sauce and tomato sauces.
  • Penne. Penne is a smaller version of Mostaccioli. This also works well with thicker sauces and might be used in some heartier soups.
  • Ravioli. Ravioli is often square or round shaped and stuffed with meats or cheeses. It’s a heartier pasta and can be served with a variety of sauces.
  • Rotini. Rotini is spiral shaped, often called corkscrew pasta.
  • Spaghetti. Spaghetti and meatballs is the most commonly thought of dish for this type of pasta. Spaghetti is a thin, long pasta that can be prepared with many types of sauce but it does pair well with a traditional tomato sauce.
  • Tortellini. Tortellini are small, round-shaped pasta stuffed with cheese. They can be added to a cold salad or served warm with a sauce.

Looking for Italian Pasta in La Grange?

If you’re looking for a wonderful restaurant specializing in all of the old world charm of the Northern Regions of Italy, La Buona Vita in La Grange features a full array of homemade pasta and other regional favorites.

2 Comments on “Guide to Italian Pasta

  1. Thanks for explaining that lasagna is the type of pasta that is flat and will be served by laying them in layers over fillings. I know now what to buy since I wanted to learn that kind of dish. My plan is to serve it for the Saturday dinner that we will have with the parents of my husband.

  2. Thanks for helping me understand that fettuccine is the past that is used to pair with Alfredo sauce, and it is thick but wide and flat. With that in mind, I will be buying a pasta like that since it’s what my husband wants to eat for his birthday this coming May. It’s the first time that I will be cooking this, so I hope I do it right by researching as early as now.

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