Types of pasta and what to use them for

An introductory guide to which ones are best!

Matching a recipe with the correct pasta is a small change that can easily make a huge difference to the flavour and eating experience. Although there are hundreds of different types of pasta, they loosely fit into a few groups which are good for specific purposes. Here is quick look at a few of the more common types and what each one is used for in Italy.

Long and thin

This group includes spaghetti, linguine and vermicelli. These forms of pasta tend to be best used for light, creamy or oily sauces. They would not traditionally be used for a bolognese sauce or ragu. For example, spaghetti bolognese is a dish which actually comes from the UK.

Long and Wide

This would include fettuccine and tagliatelle. The wider surface area of these pastas makes them better for picking up denser sauces which spaghetti can not. 


Shells such as conchiglie are perhaps the best for picking up heavy sauces. Their shape allows them to scoop up the sauce so that when we take a bite we get a mouth full of flavour. 


Tubes such as macaroni and penne are good at picking up sauces/cheese in much the same way that shells are.


Stuffed pastas such as ravioli and tortellini already carry much of the flavour of the dish within the pasta itself. As such, they can be simply dressed with maybe just a little olive oil, butter and salt might suffice.


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