When Pasta Met Sauce
A guide to which sauces go best with which noodles
The dried pasta options at the store can be bewildering. Do you want corkscrews, stovepipes, or little ears tonight? Perhaps a big dish of priest stranglers—that’d be strozzapreti in Italian. There are reasons that pasta exists in so many forms: It’s partly regional (Italian cities big and small
- Get your pasta saucy: recipes and preparation ideas for every type of noodle
- If you just like the pretty pictures: Download the visual guide to pasta (PDF)
always seem to have a specialty pasta), but it’s also practical: Certain pastas are best eaten with certain sauces. Others work well with a wide variety of sauces—the workhorse pastas, like farfalle.
The general rule is that delicate noodles are for delicate sauces while heartier noodles are for heartier sauces, but similar to wine pairing, it’s not always that simple. So here’s a guide to help you sort it all out. And if you can’t tell your radiatore from your penne, we’ve got pictures. Of course, if this is too much pasta structure for you, we won’t snitch if your gemelli ends up in a seafood sauce.
We’ve cross-referenced this chart by pasta or by sauce and included some suggestions for specific recipes you can try.
Acini di Pepe
SAUCES: Pasta Salad, Soup
SAUCES: Pesto, Seafood, Tomato
SAUCES: Baked, Tomato
SAUCES: Seafood, Tomato
SAUCES: Butter/Oil, Cream/Cheese, Meat, Pasta Salad, Vegetable
Capellini (a.k.a. Angel Hair)
SAUCES: Butter/Oil, Cream/Cheese, Pesto, Seafood, Soup, Tomato, Vegetable
SAUCES: Cream/Cheese, Meat, Pesto, Seafood, Tomato, Vegetable
SAUCES: Cream/Cheese, Meat, Pasta Salad, Soup, Vegetable
SAUCES: Pasta Salad, Vegetable
SAUCES: Cream/Cheese, Meat, Pasta Salad, Pesto, Tomato, Vegetable
SAUCES: Baked, Pasta Salad, Soup