There are few dishes that is as iconic as pasta when it comes to Italian cuisine, with each type used to achieve a different experience and result. From the most famous spaghetti to the ravioli, we take a look at 5 of the most iconic pastas and why they are used.
The most well-known of the pastas, spaghetti is one of the most commonly used pasta because of its versatile shape. The name is taken from the long strands which mean “thin strings”, which is not too thin and not too thick, making it a great vessel for lighter sauces such as the aglio olio, a seafood pesto spaghetti or the very common Italian American spaghetti and meatballs.
Cappellini is another type of pasta that is more refined and is perfect for dishes that require more subtlety and finesse, letting ingredients shine for themselves. The literal name of this pasta is ‘fine hairs” which is also known as “angel hair”, making this one of the most delicate pasta forms. A great pairing with this pasta type would be lobster or crustaceans such as king crab.
Tagliatalle is another common pasta type, with its long flat shape. These flat ribbons shaped pasta takes its name from the Italian meaning of “tagliare” or “to cut” and is more slender and thinner than its cousin the fettucine. This pasta is perfect for meat sauces such as ragù as well as any ingredient that has a more rounded and wholesome flavour, such as aged parmesan or truffles.
Farfalle is one of the more common shaped pasta, but a fun one at that. This pasta shape takes its name from the Italian meaning for “butterfly” but is also known as the bow shaped pasta. This form is usually used in preparations for children meals for its whimsical shape, but is also versatile as a form of cold pasta salad, especially the tricolori versions.
Ravioli is a type of filled pasta that is usually filled with ricotta or some sort of meat or vegetable filling. The name ravioli has a possible cognate to the word “rapa”, the Italian word for turnip. Although ricotta is one of the most common fillings, there are version that use more exquisite ingredients such as the artisanal Bagòss cheese.
Lasagne is a type of sheet pasta that is commonly found throughout the world and is sometimes mistaken for not being a pasta due to its preparation. The pasta is usually layered with meat and onions in a tomato-based sauce, topped with cheese. There are some versions that use a cream base, but traditionally it has always been tomato based.
All The Pastabilities
There are many forms and shapes of pasta, with the ones above being more commonly used as they have versatility in the kitchen. The rule of thumb when it comes to pasta is that the size does matter, but not in the way you would think. Big flat pasta shapes are great for heavier sauces while thinner strands make perfect vessels for more refined ingredients. Look out for our next article where we discuss the more fanciful shaped pastas.