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An Overview of Common Pasta Shapes 07:43

Steve Samson

Understanding the differences between pasta varieties will allow you to pick the best type for a recipe.

An Overview of Common Pasta Shapes 07:43

Steve Samson

Understanding the differences between pasta varieties will allow you to pick the best type for a recipe.

Easy
Prep Time Cook Time Total Time Serving Size

The Steps

  1. 1. Italian pasta is divided into two categories: those originating from the northern region and those originating from the southern region. Pasta of northern Italian origin is made with 00 flour, or finely ground wheat flour similar to all-purpose flour. Southern Italian pasta is made with semolina flour. Northern Italian pastas often combine flour with egg, or egg yolks, while southern Italian pastas consist solely of semolina flour and water. Spaghetti, rigatoni, pachetti, and casarecce are types of southern Italian pastas. 00:11

  2. 2. Chef Steve recommends buying only the southern Italian varieties, with the exception of tagliatelle, as good quality versions can be found in most specialty stores. Northern Italian pastas are best enjoyed fresh, and should be prepared from scratch at home. Store-bought varieties are often very thick, and when made at home they become mushy upon cooking. If you have a pasta extruder at home, experiment with making various types of pastas. However, great versions of dried, artisanal Italian pastas that produce top quality dishes are available in most grocery stores. 01:39

  3. 3. Pastas should be cooked al dente, or to the point where, when bit in half, the white flour ring is barely present or has just disappeared. Dried pasta varieties are easier to cook al dente than homemade pastas. 03:25

  4. 4. When choosing which sauce to pair with each type of pasta, Chef Steve does not follow any hard-line rules. The most important part of pasta making is not in pairing sauces to specific pasta types, but cooking it correctly. It is equally important to finish the pasta in a pan so it does not sit in a soupy sauce, but instead the two become one cohesive dish. Traditionally, spaghetti is paired with a lighter, cheese-free, often seafood-based sauce. Heartier pastas with ridges that hold onto sauces, like rigatoni, are typically paired with meat sauces. 05:17

What You'll Need

Ingredients

- A selection of southern Italian pastas

Chef Notes

A pasta extruder is a machine that produces complex pasta shapes with mechanical precision. These machines are typically used in restaurants, but home chefs can purchase a pasta extruder online or from a specialty store.

Additional southern Italian pasta varieties include penne, linguini, ziti, rotini, and farfalle.

When purchasing dried pasta from the store, choose varieties that are made in Italy. According to Chef Steve, these types have been perfected for home use.

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Chef Steve Samson

Los Angeles

Steve Samson grew up spending summers in Bologna, Italy, his mother's hometown. Life in Bologna was centered around the dinin... read more