February 20, 2024

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Delicious food

Stop putting the wrong sauce on your pasta dishes


There’s a reason why Italians have invented more than 350 different pasta shapes. Dried pasta is one of the most versatile ingredients out there – and there’s more science than you might expect behind the perfect pasta and sauce pairings. Although you can’t go wrong with a simple bowl of spaghetti, if you’re looking for something more exciting, take inspiration from these traditional, and some non-traditional, Italian combinations.




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Originating from the center of Italian gastronomy, the Emilia-Romagna region, tagliatelle is one of the most popular pasta shapes around the globe. The region takes such pride in it that the Chamber of Commerce in Bologna has a single solid gold ribbon of tagliatelle displayed in its perfect proportions – 1mm by 6mm (that’s barely 0.04 by 0.24 inches).




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


Longer and broader than tagliatelle, pappardelle originates from Tuscany and borrows its name from the Italian word pappare – to gobble up, which is exactly what this pasta is meant to do with sauce.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


The smallest of the three ribbon pastas, fettuccine is most popular in Roman and Tuscan cuisines. More closely resembling wide rice noodles, fettuccine is much flatter and also more narrow than pappardelle and tagliatelle.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


Spaghetti is arguably one the best-known types of pasta and its history can be traced as far back as 12th-century Sicily. However, it wasn’t until the late 20th century that the shorter spaghetti we know today gained popularity and became a common pantry staple.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


These little ears originate from Apulia, the region located in Italy’s heel. Made with durum wheat and water, typical in southern Italian homes, the pasta is rolled and then cut into cubes. Each cube is then pressed with a knife and dragged along a board to curl it. It’s then inverted over the thumb. Orecchiette is certainly one of the most time-consuming pasta shapes to make.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


Especially popular in Sicily and southern Italy, rigatoni are larger than penne and have straight-cut ends. This pasta’s name comes from the Italian word rigato, which means ridged or lined, and refers to the ridges down the length of each tube.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


In North America and large parts of Europe macaroni refers to the elbow-shaped pasta, but in Italy maccheroni describes straight and longer tubed pasta. It’s also a commonly-used word to describe a spaghetti-like pasta variety maccheroni alla chitarra – traditional in the Abruzzo region.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


Resembling a corkscrew, the fusilli we’re familiar with are the most common of seven fusilli varieties including spirale, bucati corti and doppia rigatura. It is believed that the name comes from the Italian word fuso, which means spindle, presumably alluding to the way fusilli is traditionally made by pressing and rolling a small rod over the pasta.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


This free-form pasta originates from Sicily but is popular all across the southern Italy. The word casarecce literally means homemade, from Italian casareccio, alluding to its loosely shaped, homemade appearance.




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Another shape that’s great for catching sauce, the little crevices on casarecce make sure the sauce is captured and held in there. Serve with any thicker cheese or cream sauces or the Sicilian way – with pesto alla Trapanese. Hailing from Trapani in Sicily, the recipe combines ripe vine tomatoes with ricotta, Parmesan, pine nuts and garlic in a rich, thick sauce that is perfect tossed with casarecce.




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Commonly known as bow-tie pasta, the Italian word farfalla actually means butterfly, hinting at the pasta’s shape. The history of this pasta can be traced all the way back to the 16th century and it’s most popular in the Emilia-Romagna and Lombardy regions of northern Italy. Interestingly, in the city of Modena, farfalle is instead known as strichetti.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


It’s hard to pinpoint ravioli’s place of origin as mentions of filled pasta date as far back as the 14th century in Venice and Rome, as well as in the Tuscan town of Prato. Typically square, ravioli can also be circular or moon-shaped (mezzelune). They’re similar to another variety of filled pasta – agnolotti – which is specific to the Piedmont region and traditionally filled with roasted meat or vegetables.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


A staple of Emilia-Romagna, tortellini are particularly famous in Bologna and Modena. Legend says the dish was created for Lucrezia Borgia, from the noble House of Borgia, when she spent a night in Modena. The innkeeper was so captivated by Lucrezia’s beauty he had to peek through the keyhole, but all he could see was her navel. This was said to have inspired him to create tortellini that night.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


These mini pasta shapes, reminiscent of a rice grain, are the cause of many misunderstandings around the world. While we know orzo as pasta, the Italian word orzo actually means barley and the pasta in Italy is referred to as risoni. To make matters worse, you can also make a risotto-like dish with orzo pasta, while in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, a region in northeast Italy, a typical risotto type dish called orzotto is made with barley.




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Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


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