How to pair sauce with the right cut of pasta

(NC)—When pairing a cut of pasta to a type of sauce, the chef is always in charge. There are no rights or wrongs as long as your diners enjoy the dish. However, for those looking for a suggestion or two, the following tips may be helpful.

ROUND LONG SHAPES (Angel Hair/Capellini, Thin Spaghetti, Spaghetti)

– Light and dainty, angel hair pasta works best with simple, light tomato sauces, light dairy sauces or broths, consommés and soups.

– Slightly thicker than angel hair, thin spaghetti is often used with seafood-based sauces (like tuna) or oil-based sauces, such as light structured sauces that balance the delicacy of this long, thin shape.

– Long and thin, yet not too fine, spaghetti is one of the more versatile shapes of pasta and pairs well with just about any kind of sauce, including oil-based sauces, simple tomato sauce with or without meat or vegetables, fish-based sauces and carbonara.

For those looking for healthier pasta options, consider choosing Barilla whole grain spaghetti and spaghettini which are made with 51 per cent whole wheat. These all natural options have two times more fibre than regular pasta, making it a very high source of fibre.

TUBE SHAPES (Penne Lisce/Mostaccioli, Penne Rigate, Rigatoni)

These thick tubes work best with full flavour sauces. The larger diameter and ridges of penne and rigatoni allow them to retain sauces well on all surfaces.

Tubes pair well with:

– Chunky meat or vegetable-based sauces (especially the ridged shapes).

– Refined dairy-based sauces or a mushroom cream sauce.

– Fresh, light sauces like olive oil or simple fresh tomato (especially the smooth shapes like Penne Lisce/Mostaccioli Ziti).

– Fish-based sauces.

– Tomato sauces or spicy sauces.

For a whole grain pasta option, try Barilla whole grain penne, which adds twice the amount of fibre to your meal, compared to regular pasta.

TWIST SHAPES (Rotini, Fusilli, Gemelli)

Twists and spirals are often used in pasta salads and are also great with both refined and simple sauces. Traditional Italian dishes might include:

– Light tomato sauces with or without vegetables.

– Dairy-based sauces.

– Oil-based sauces.

For a whole grain pasta option, try Barilla whole grain rotini to increase your fibre intake.

More information about pasta and sauce pairings is available online at, or for whole grain pasta recipes and tips.


Photo © marco palazzi

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