Easy Mix-and-Match Pasta Meals
Mangia! Mangia!(Eat! Eat!) Gather ’round the table and feed friends and family something molto delizioso in honor of National Noodle and National Sauce month.
Knowing which pasta type pairs well with which sauces can be a challenge, but we’ve created three awesome new sauces that are so versatile they go well with practically everything. Whip together dinner from our mix-and-match menu that will impress even the most worldly of appetites, and learn a few Italian cooking phrases to boot! Buon appetito!
Translated, these tips may sound like hyperbole, but pasta is the foundation upon which you build your flavors, so choose and cook it with care!
- Take Shape: Short, tube-shaped pasta—think rigatoni or macaroni—pairs well with a chunkier sauce, but keep proportion of ingredients in mind. Long, thin strands like spaghetti and linguine are good choices for olive oil-based sauces that’ll coat them without weighing them down, while thicker strands like fettuccine can stand up to a hearty ragu. Whimsical shapes, like farfalle (bow ties or butterflies) or fusilli (little springs), work equally well with smooth sauces and those with texture.
- Let It Swim: Choose your largest stockpot and cook with even more water than you think is necessary. This gives pasta room to move, allowing for consistent cooking and a more even texture.
- Cook al dente (to the tooth): Aim for slightly undercooked pasta, which has a texture that gives a slight resistance when bitten. Keep in mind that letting pasta boil too long is one of the most common mistakes people make, which leads to la pasta é scotta (the pasta is too cooked).
- Use un pugno di sale (a fistful of salt): Okay, so a fistful is A LOT, but salting your water will lead to tastier pasta because it flavors the pasta from the inside out as the water is absorbed. Iodized salt will make your pasta taste metallic, so be sure to use sea salt or kosher salt instead.
Round out your dinner with a simple salad, freshly baked bread, and fruit and cheese for dessert, and raise your glass of vino as you proclaim Cin cin! to the company around your table.
- LOSE THE SPOON: It’s only for pasta in broth, say the experts. It’s a helpful twirl companion, but technically a no-no.
- A BETTER UTENSIL: Fare la scarpetta (roughly translated as “to do the little shoe”) is a term for the charming Italian custom of using a small piece of bread to mop up all of the wonderful sauce on your plate that you cannot possibly leave behind.
- IN HOT WATER: Save a bit of the water your pasta is cooking in and add it to your sauce to give it the desired consistency without messing with the flavor.
YOUR TURN: What’s your favourite pasta shape? Tell us why!