Short, tubular pasta – penne, rigatoni, ziti
Versatility is the name of the game when it comes to short, tubular pasta shapes. These noodles can hold their own in salads, casseroles, and just about any baked pasta dish, including – you guessed it – baked ziti. With its wide opening, rigatoni’s shape makes it a natural choice for heartier tomato and meat-based sauces. Cylinder-shaped penne can go light or hearty, but we’ll always be partial to penne alla vodka.
Twisted pasta – fusilli, rotini, gemelli
The nooks and crannies found in this type of pasta are perfect for capturing an array of sauces laced with texture, such as crumbled meats or chopped vegetables. Pesto is a go-to sauce for fusilli, with optional mix-ins including chopped tomatoes, zucchini, peas, chicken, and shrimp. Rotini and marinara is another common pairing, and a number of pasta enthusiasts will tell you that gemelli is absolutely divine paired with butter and cheese.
Long, thin pasta –
angel hair, spaghetti, capellini
Pasta like angel hair and spaghetti is easily recognizable thanks to its thin, delicate strands. The key to pairing these pastas is simple: Don’t weigh them down. Light tomato, cream, or oil and garlic-based sauces, like a light seafood sauce or a pomodoro, will achieve an even coating on the strands. Dainty yet flavorful additions like fresh herbs, crisp pancetta, and thinly sliced vegetables can spruce up your dish without overpowering the pairing.