Are you using these types of pasta correctly?

Whether you find yourself with a packet of pasta you are not familiar with or just want to switch up your dinners, here is a guide to different types of pasta and what dishes to use them in. Plus, we also have a simple and quick pasta recipe to try at home.

There are more than 350 different varieties of pasta worldwide. This doesn’t even begin to include the many different names a single type can be called between different regions and countries. Nor does it include the multiple types of bases used to make pasta, including egg, flour alternatives, lentils and other flavourings. 

Why are there so many different types of pasta? Each shape is designed to be used for specific dishes, with some more suited to hold thick or creamy sauces, while others are perfect for fillings. Many different Italian regions have their own version of each pasta shape, as well as varying sizes. 

In this guide, you’ll discover the best type of pasta for each type of dish, covering everything from soups and sauces to salads. We’ve also added a bonus fool-proof recipe to make your own pasta at home, including multiple flour alternatives so everyone in the family can enjoy.

Photo by Deva Darshan on Unsplash

 

4 Most Popular Long & Medium Types of Pasta

1. Pappardelle.

Pappardelle are long, broad ribbons of pasta originating from the region of Tuscany in Italy. You’ll often find fresh or lightly dried versions of this pasta in the supermarket that will cook in less than 5 minutes. 

This pasta gets its name from the Italian word pappare, which means to ‘gobble up’.

Best used in these dishes:

Pappardelle’s wide, flat sides are perfect for coating in thick sauces and have traditionally been used as a foundation for stews and roasts.

2. Tagliatelle.

Hailing from the northern regions of Italy, Tagliatelle is another long, flat pasta almost identical to fettuccine pasta, which is found in popular Southern Italian dishes.

Again, you will most likely find fresh or lightly dried bundles of tagliatelle in the supermarket, ready to pop into salted, boiling water, cooking in minutes.

Best used in these dishes:

Wide, flat pastas pair incredibly well with rich and hearty sauces. You’ll find this pasta works best with meat sauces, like ragu.

3. Lasanga

Ready to learn the difference between the spelling of lasagna and lasagne? Lasagna is the singular wide pasta sheet used to make lasagne, the delicious layered pasta dish. 

You can get lasagna sheets both fresh and dried in the supermarket.

Best used in these dishes:

The obvious and popular choice is to make a lasagne. From the traditional beef or pork mince fillings to chicken and even vegetarian, this is always a winner when it comes to making a meal for the family.

In a pinch, you can also use fresh or cooked lasagna sheets to make cannelloni.

4. Linguine

Linguine is a flatter version of spaghetti and is a great base for many traditional Italian sauces.

Best used in these dishes:

When it comes to pairing a sauce with pasta, linguine often works best with creamy and silky sauces. Try pesto or carbonara with your linguine. If you make your sauce from scratch, make sure you reserve some pasta water after cooking, as it can help adhere sauces to the pasta.

3 Most Popular Short-Cut Types of Pasta

1. Rigatoni

Rigatoni pasta is tubed shaped and has little ridges around it, similar to penne. It is a favourite type of pasta for many in the mid-to-south regions of Italy.

Best used in these dishes:

All those little ridges in rigatoni are perfect for catching and holding cheese, ground meat and sauce. Larger varieties can also be stuffed. 

You can also use this pasta, like many short-cut varieties, in pasta bakes.

2. Penne

A popular choice from the dried pasta section at the supermarket, penne is easily identified by its diagonal cut ends that look like a pen nib. In fact, it gets its name from the Latin word penna, meaning feather or quill.

Best used in these dishes:

Much like rigatoni, penne is excellent at holding thick sauces and is perfect for pasta bakes and rich, hearty sauces.

3. Fusilli

Fusilli is clearly identified through its corkscrew shape, which helps it catch and hold onto sauces and other ingredients. Here in Australia, you will commonly here fusilli be called ‘spiral’ pasta.

Best used in these dishes:

Fusilli is great both hot and cold, so you can use it with hearty sauces or pasta salads.

3 Most Popular Types of Soup Pasta

1. Orzo

Orzo is often mistaken for a type of rice due to its similarity in appearance to many short-grain varieties. You can also find this under the name risoni.

Best used in these dishes:

Orzo is best used when cooked with soups such as minestrone or other broth based dishes, and is also great baked with cheese sauces.

2. Corralini

While it may not be commonly used over other popular types of soup pasta, corralini brings a great texture to many dishes. This pasta type is cut into small cylindrical pieces and can be found in the dried section at most supermarkets.

Best used in these dishes:

Swap your orzo for corralini in vegetable or creamy soups.

3. Farfalle

You may know farfalle more commonly as bowtie or butterfly pasta, and it’s obvious why. This short-cut pasta has a wide, flat surface, which is pulled together in the middle and ruffled at the edges. The dried variety can be found on supermarket shelves everywhere.

Best used in these dishes:

Farfalle is great for vegetable-based soups but can certainly hold up to sauces or pasta salad dressings.

3 Most Popular Types of Filled Pasta

1. Tortellini

Confused what the differences between tortellini and ravioli are? Tortellini are stuffed pasta, formed by folding one piece of pasta over the filling and sealing the edges. Ravioli uses two layers of pasta to encase a filling.

Store-bought fresh tortellini cooks up in just minutes in boiling salted water, making it a super easy midweek dinner.

Best used in these dishes:

With endless ideas for fillings and sauce pairings, tortellini is an extraordinarily versatile pasta option. Plus, you can also use it in soups and broth. 

This writer’s favourite is a spinach and ricotta filling with a creamy sauce.

2. Ravioli

The perfect ravioli includes thin, delicate and silky sheets of pasta encasing a flavourful filling. While tortellini is great with almost any sauce, ravioli tends to work well with more delicate sauces, such as burnt butter. 

You can buy premade ravioli in the fresh pasta section at your local supermarket; however, when making it from scratch at home, it can take some practice to get your pasta thickness-to-filling ratio perfect.

Best used in these dishes:

Ravioli can be filled with almost any combination of flavours. A popular choice is three cheese or pumpkin and spinach, finished with a burnt butter sauce.

3. Cannelloni

Not to be confused with cannoli, the delicious Italian dessert, cannelloni are thick tubes of pasta, perfect for stuffing and baking.

Fresh or dry cannelloni pasta can be easily stuffed, arranged in a baking dish and covered with sauce and cheese for a delicious meal.

Best used in these dishes:

While the classic go-to filling for cannelloni is ricotta and spinach, you can always mix it up with a ragu-style filling or a creamy chicken sauce. 

How to Make Pasta at Home

Follow our fool-proof recipe to make your own pasta from scratch, without any special equipment.

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour. See below for flour substitutes.
3 large eggs.
Pinch of salt.

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, add the flour and a pinch of salt and form a well in the center.
  2. Crack the eggs into the well and with a fork or your hands, begin to mix the eggs and incorporate the flour. Continue until combined into a rough dough. If you have a stand mixer, you can complete this step using a dough hook.
  3. Knead the dough with your hands for at least 5 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic and roll into a ball.
    Note: Depending on the temperature or climate, your dough may be too dry or sticky at this stage. If you feel the dough is too dry, add a splash of oil or water or add a small amount of flour if it is too sticky.
  4. Wrap your dough in cling wrap and let it rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Once rested, use a rolling pin to flatten the pasta dough on a lightly floured surface.
  6. Cut to your desired shape. For long linguine pasta strands, gently folder the dough over itself multiple times and cut. Ensure your dust the pasta strands with flour to prevent sticking.
  7. Cook your pasta in boiling, heavily salted water for 2 to 3 minutes.

Alternatives to flour for pasta:

If you don’t have flour in your kitchen cupboard or would prefer to use an alternative, then we have you covered. 

Here are 10 alternatives to traditional pasta flour to use when making pasta, including gluten-free options. Please keep in mind these may require different measurements than traditional pasta flour.

  1. Semolina flour.
  2. Lentils.
  3. Spelt Flour.
  4. Coconut flour.
  5. Bread flour.
  6. Wholemeal flour.
  7. Polenta.
  8. Chickpea flour.
  9. Rye flour.
  10. Buckwheat flour.

Nothing beats fresh house-made pasta.

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      Brit McDowell

      Lifestyle Specialist & Subject Matter Expert

      Brit McDowell is a Subject Matter Expert at Localsearch with a background in marketing, business and tourism management. Aside from her specialisation in technical processes, Brit is known for her green thumb and growing succulent collection, love of dogs (especially Dalmatians), eye for home interior and fervour for travel. Brit is also a Lifestyle Specialist on the Localsearch Blog and enjoys sharing her research and knowledge in home and gardening services, food, beauty and general lifestyle tips and tricks.