From spaghetti to fusilli, pasta comes in all shapes and sizes. But how to choose the right type of pasta? Keep reading to discover how Italians approach this question.
The Different Types of Pasta
To learn more about pasta, first we have to delve into some basic terms. Here you have some essential categories in Italian with their English translations.
- Pasta lunga (long pasta). This term refers to ribbon-like pasta such as spaghetti and linguini.
- Pasta corta (short pasta). Pasta whose individual pieces are usually an inch or less in size. This category includes penne, pennette, and some less-known shapes such as lumache (snails).
- Pasta rigata (striped pasta). Features a series of grooves that run the length of each individual piece of pasta.
- Pasta liscia (smooth or plain pasta). The surface of this type of pasta is smooth and without grooves, as opposed to the grooves of pasta rigata.
How to Choose the Right Type of Pasta
The type of pasta you choose will depend on the sauce (sugo) and condiments you use. Here’s how it works:
- When to use pasta lunga. Long pasta goes well with tomato sauce, or with melted butter and grated cheese. It’s also ideal for some of the most iconic pasta dishes such as pasta al pesto, and pasta alla carbonara.
- When to use pasta corta. Pasta corta is used in Italy for sauces that have small chunks of meat or vegetables. It’s also the go-to choice for pasta salads and pasta fredda, or cold pasta.
- When to use pasta rigata. The grooves on this type of pasta are more than mere decoration. Their purpose is to capture sauce and ensure that you get as much of it as possible with every bite. Pasta rigata is the classic choice for tomato sauce, or sugo al pomodoro.
- When to use pasta liscia. Now, you use pasta rigata to capture sauces that have a liquid consistency. If the sauce is particularly dense, then it’s time to grab the pasta liscia from the pantry. The idea is that a dense sugo already sticks to the pasta, so you don’t need grooves. The dishes typically made with pasta liscia include those that call for dense, cream- or cheese-based sauces.
Fun fact: Italians take their pasta very seriously. For example, did you know that Giorgetto Giugiaro, one of the greatest automotive designers of the 20th century, designed a type of pasta? It’s called marille and you can find more information about it (including design blueprints) here.
More Interesting Food Facts
At Chef Gourmet, we know good food, and we love sharing that knowledge with you. If we have whetted your appetite for interesting food facts, here are some previous posts you may find interesting:
- Why do we eat turkey on Thanksgiving?
- Some interesting facts about mango
- 4 Reasons to love green beans
- 4 Spooky dishes to celebrate Halloween
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