How to Properly Sauce Pasta
Follow these proven pairing and plating tips to serve superior, delicious pasta every time.
Which Sauce to Use
The type and size of the pasta should match the size of the ingredients in the sauce.
Rule of thumb: The chunkier the ingredients in the sauce, the larger the hollow or cup required in the pasta to capture them.
If you have a chunky vegetable sauce, look for pasta cuts with lots of nooks and crannies or deep crevices to catch and hold the vegetables.
Suggestions: rigatoni, orecchiette, rotelle, shells
Cheese sauces adhere best to small pasta cuts with lots of surface area.
Suggestions: fusilli, farfalle, macaroni, mostaccioli, shells
Pesto and other oil-based sauces are just right for keeping long, thin cuts from clumping together. They also coat noodles more evenly than they would smaller pasta with lots of crevices.
Suggestions: fusilli bucati, spaghetti, fettuccini
Noodles just beg for butter, so a little bit of sauce goes a long way to coat them evenly.
Suggestions: egg noodles, linguini, fettuccini
Two completely different pasta cuts are commonly used with meat ragu. In Northern Italy, wide, fresh egg noodles are traditionally paired with meat sauce, while in Southern Italy small cuts of dried pasta are used. Neither will steer you wrong.
Suggestions: macaroni, fusilli bucati, egg noodles, rigatoni
Nearly any small cut will pair deliciously with soup. The size you choose all depends on how many pieces of pasta you prefer in each spoonful.
Suggestions: ditali, acini di pepe, orzo
How to Plate Pasta
- Prepare and heat sauces to serving temperature before mixing with pasta.
- Mix pasta gently with the sauce to avoid breaking the pasta pieces.
- Mix pasta with sauces just before serving.
Note: Sauces which are too warm will begin to cook the pasta again, and may cause the pasta to lose its texture if kept too warm for extended periods.
(High quality pasta from Pasta Montana will not absorb too much of the sauce, but a lower quality pasta will absorb enough sauce to compromise its texture.)
Find the right pasta for any specialty sauce!