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In your Italian cooking, how important to you is the shape of the pasta vis–à–vis the sauce?

Are you a stickler that certain pasta shapes must be paired with certain sauces, e.g. Carbonara with spaghetti or ragu with pici?

Or do you just go with whatever is in the cupboard or pantry?

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  1. For a very specific pasta ie: carbonara, fetticini al fredo, etc I try to hold true to the pasta type but have been known to substitute something close if it's a craving and I am throwing it together for the family with what I have on hand. If I am planning a specific dinner/dinner party than I make a point of buying the appropriate noodles.

    I guess the only real "rule" I follow is for heartier sauces I prefer heartier noodles and for more delicate sauces and marinaras I prefer finer, more delicate pastas.

    1. I don't necessarily use traditional 'rules', but I stick pretty close to them because, as foodie says, certain pastas lend themselves to holding certain sauces better.

      A baked ziti can have any short tubular pasta instead of the ziti, but you wouldn't want an angel hair or orzo in that dish.

      What do you do, ipsedixit? Are you a rebel or a traditionalist?

      1 Reply
      1. re: jmcarthur8

        This is probably where I fall. Very limited in shape in the local stores I will pair by family instead of exact match.

      2. If the sauce includes larger chunky components such as large slices of vegetables or sausages, olives, etc I'll choose a pasta of similar size/shape (e.g. rigatoni). Cream sauces I think are better w/ fetticine and other long noodles. Pesto and simple red sauces are good with anything.

        1. i often use heartier pastas for heartier sauces, and vice versa. but there is one huge exception; and thats spaghetti! as in spaghetti and american style chunky tomatoey sweet heavily seasoned long cooking meat sauce. i love that, and i always will.

          1. Usually I use something somewhat appropriate but I don't obsess about it nor get bothered about using another shape if that other shape is the only one available and I didn't have my preferred one at hand. However, I generally don't care too much for the tubular ones in short-ish lengths (penne, ziti, etc) so I tend to NOT use them even with sauces meant for them - but substitute some sort of long-ish (usually solid) pasta instead. "Shaped" pasta - that depends...I like something like radiatore, so might use that instead of something that I don't care for like farfalle or conchiglie or similar, (or penne or ziti etc - see above) again even if the recipe was meant for those latter shapes to be used.