Cuts and Sauces at our Italian Market
Conzatti’s Italian Market offers a wide assortment of pasta.
Selecting the perfect cut of pasta for your pasta sauce or vice versa is like uniting the two in marriage. Here are some tips to making the perfect union of the two.
Cuts and sauces – With over 500 different denominations for pasta in Italy, the myriad of shapes that pasta now comes in can seem overwhelming. The fanciful shapes of pasta have been designed that way for a reason, with a surface area for optimum holding of the sauce, some with ridges, some smooth, and each is adapted for a particular type of sauce. But, basically they can be broken down into just three simple categories: long cuts, short cuts and soup cuts.
Long cuts – such as spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, etc. – go well with full-bodied, olive-oil based and/or robust sauces. The long ribbons of mafalda and fettuccine are perfect for wrapping around a rich Bolognese sauce or soaking up a cream and mushroom sauce. Spaghetti and linguine work best with smoother olive oil and tomato based sauces which lubricate the lengths of the strands. Delicate cappellini, the thin spaghetti which are cooked in just a few minutes, need liquid sauces such as a simple butter and cream reduction given emphasis by fresh Parmesan. Their strands are too fine to wrap around and pick up a chunky sauce.
Short cuts – such as penne, rigatoni, etc. – are best suited for ragù and chunky vegetable sauces which catch the pieces in their hollows, giving satisfying bursts of flavor as you eat. As a general guide, choose a pasta shape that has the right size hollow to catch the pieces in your sauce – peas or pieces of sausage snuggle nicely into rigatoni or shell pasta, while smaller bits of a vegetable sauce will be easily captured by the twists of fusilli. Smooth sided pastas like farfalle go brilliantly with creamy sauces, as the thickly reduced cream clings well to the pasta, coating it thoroughly.
Soup cuts – such as ditalini or acini di pepe – are particularly small so that they can be easily scooped up with a soup spoon.
But Italians are not strict on what shape of pasta should be paired with which particular sauce – though “rigatoni al pesto” or “orecchiette con panna e prosciutto” would very likely create some awkward silences. Experience and tradition are certainly highly valued in Italian kitchens, but fortunately the Italians’ attachment to custom is tempered by their playful and tolerant spirit.
- Acine dipepe
- Mezzi Rigatoni
- Whole wheat pasta
- Gluten free pasta