When Pasta Met Sauce

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

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

Acini di Pepe
SAUCES: Soup

Anelli/Anellini

Anelli/Anellini
SAUCES: Pasta Salad, Soup

Bavette

Bavette
SAUCES: Pesto, Seafood, Tomato

Bucatini

Bucatini
SAUCES: Baked, Tomato

Calamari

Calamari
SAUCES: Seafood, Tomato

Campanelle

Campanelle
SAUCES: Butter/Oil, Cream/Cheese, Meat, Pasta Salad, Vegetable

Capellini

Capellini (a.k.a. Angel Hair)
SAUCES: Butter/Oil, Cream/Cheese, Pesto, Seafood, Soup, Tomato, Vegetable

Casarecce

Casarecce
SAUCES: Cream/Cheese, Meat, Pesto, Seafood, Tomato, Vegetable

Cavatelli

Cavatelli
SAUCES: Cream/Cheese, Meat, Pasta Salad, Soup, Vegetable

Cavaturi

Cavaturi
SAUCES: Pasta Salad, Vegetable

Conchiglie

Conchiglie
SAUCES: Cream/Cheese, Meat, Pasta Salad, Pesto, Tomato, Vegetable

Ditalini

Ditalini
SAUCES: Baked, Pasta Salad, Soup

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