Cooking Secrets: Perfect Pairing of Pasta and Sauces

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Cooking Secrets: Perfect Pairing of Pasta and Sauces

Cooking Secrets: Perfect Pairing of Pasta and Sauces | Read this before preparing your next pasta dish! | Learn how to make expert pairings the Italian way. |

I love beautiful cooking and when it comes to sharing cooking secrets I’m an open book! If you’ve ever stood in the grocery store or at your open fridge and wondered what type of sauce would be best to serve with your pasta, then this post is for you. Today I’m sharing flavorful cooking secrets: How to pair pasta with the perfect sauce. I hope you enjoy these helpful tips. You can share the love by pinning the above image to >>PINTEREST.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links for items I think you’ll love. If you purchase through a link I may earn a small commission (your cost is not affected). It keeps this site up and allows me to provide beautiful content.

Great Italian Dishes Begin with Quality Pasta

Artisan pasta with a rough texture and matte color is an ideal choice, but is usually a bit more expensive than industrial-style pasta. If artisan pasta does not fit within your budget, no worries. There are plenty of great-tasting options available from manufacturers you know and trust.

Pairing Pasta with Sauces

When selecting the perfect sauce great Italian cooks take several things into consideration. The shape of the pasta along with its texture, size and weight determines what type of sauce to use. When expertly matched the marriage of pasta and sauce are culinary heaven.

Quick Guide: Pasta Shapes and Types

Long flat shapes are perfect for cream sauces and butter/oil. Pasta with ridges allow the sauce to cling to them. Shaped pasta capture pieces of chunky sauce in their crevices. Delicate pasta is best matched with light sauces. Sturdier pasta is best with robust, hearty sauces. The best tasting dishes result from sauce fusing with the noodles, rather than just coating them.

Cooking Secrets: Perfect Pairing of Pasta and Sauces | Read this before you prepare pasta! | Learn expert tips on pairing pasta with sauces that best enhance the flavor of your dish. Do it the Italian way! |

Familiar pasta structures along with recommended sauces

  • FARFALLE (bow tie) pasta is very versatile. It works well with a variety of different sauces: meat, veggie, tomato, seafood, cream sauces, butter/oil. It’s also a perfect choice for pasta salads.
  • PENNE RIGATE pasta (long tubes with ends slit at an angle) has a textured surface which helps sauce to better adhere to it. These noodles are great for baked dishes, as well as cream-cheese sauces, thick tomato-based sauces, and vegetable sauces.
  • FETTUCCINE pasta (“little ribbons”) is shaped in narrow, flat strips. It’s excellent when paired with thick, robust sauces such as sausage, Alfredo, veggie and seafood.
  • LINGUINE pasta (flat, long, narrow) can be served with a variety of sauces, but it’s truly at its prime when served with clam sauce.
  • CAPELLINI pasta (Angel Hair) is thin and light. It best compliments delicate sauces such as butter/oil, pesto, cream, and thin tomato sauce.
  • GIGLI pasta (shaped like lilies) has superior taste when paired with meat sauces and thick tomato-based sauces. It’s a nice choice for baked dishes.
  • LASAGNA (thick flat sheets) is an all-time favorite for layered and baked entrees. It provides a sturdy base for generous amounts of thick meaty sauces, and hearty cheese and vegetable sauces.
  • FUSILLI COL BUCO pasta (shaped like corkscrews) is an ideal choice for pasta salads that are very filling. Superb sauces to pair with this pasta are cream, meat, pesto, and veggie.
  • GEMELLI pasta (double-helix) are twin strands that are wonderful in baked dishes and for pasta salads. They’re also delicious when tossed with basic butter/oil sauces as well as meat, pesto and vegetable sauces.
  • JUMBO SHELLS are meant to be filled with chunky meat sauce, cheese, and veggies. They’re fabulous for baked dishes.

Now that you know these expert tips on perfect pairing of pasta and sauces, you’ll notice a big difference in taste. What are your cooking secrets for superb Italian dishes? Let’s learn from one another. Please share your thoughts and cooking tips in the comment section below. Then save this resource for later: Pin it to PINTEREST!

Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration |

Helpful Pasta Tools You’ll Love

Kitchen Secrets: How to Cook Perfect Pasta Every Time

Most everyone loves a great pasta dish, especially when cooked at their favorite restaurant. But not everyone has an Italian grandmother to teach them authentic kitchen secrets on how to cook perfect pasta at home. If you have very discerning taste buds, then read on. This post on how to cook perfect pasta is exactly what you’ve been searching for!

How to Cook Perfect Pasta: Let’s Talk Water

To cook a great pasta start off by filling a large pasta pot with water. Over medium/high heat, bring the water to a roiling boil. After adding in the pasta, quickly place a lid on the pot to bring the water back to a deep, bubbling boil. If the water loses it’s boil, the pasta can become mushy. Once the water is back to a full boil, remove the lid for the remainder of the cooking time. H

ow to Cook Perfect Pasta: What About Salt?

Absolutely add salt! Before bringing the water to a full boil, add 5 teaspoons of table salt for every gallon of water.

Note: There are many different types of salt that you can use to salt the water (kosher, sea salt, fine salt, coarse salt, etc.), and they all vary in density. Adjust the quantity of salt used to your own personal taste.

How to Cook Perfect Pasta: Let’s Discuss Oil

Never add oil to the pasta water. Never. Oil will cause your pasta to become slippery and the pasta sauce will not adhere to it. Adding oil to the boiling water is a long-standing pasta myth that just needs to disappear – like now!How to Cook Perfect Pasta: Boiling & StirringAfter adding pasta to the boiling water, stir the pasta within the first two minutes of cooking time. This prevents the pasta from sticking together. Once the pasta starts to release its starches, sticking together is less of an issue. Refer to the package directions for recommended cooking time.

How to Cook Perfect Pasta: Reserve Some Starchy LiquidStand careful watch over the pasta as it cooks. When the pasta is almost ready, start tasting it at 15-second intervals. The goal is for the pasta to be almost al dente. Quickly reserve a cup or two of starchy liquid from the pot. Drain the almost cooked pasta in a colander. Don’t rinse the pasta, just shake it out.

How to Cook Perfect Pasta: When to Rinse

Never rinse pasta that is being used for hot pasta dishes! Rinsing away the starch will prevent the pasta from properly absorbing the sauce. The only time you’ll want to rinse pasta after cooking and draining is when you’re preparing a cold pasta salad. When pasta is briefly rinsed, residual starch is removed. This is fine for cold pasta dishes as less starch makes the pasta less sticky. For pasta salads, transfer the rinsed pasta to a large bowl and toss it gently with a bit of olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking together.

Final Step: The Ultimate Cooking Secret!

Quickly place the pasta back inside the hot pot. Add in some of the starchy water along with the sauce. (The starchy water assists the pasta in absorbing the full flavor of the delicious sauce.) Using a cooking fork or spoon, stir the pasta, water and sauce vigorously. Use tight oval motions, almost as if you are whipping the pasta. This secret method causes the starch to quickly emulsify with the water and sauce releasing succulent, complex flavors. During the whipping process, cook the pasta for about two minutes or until it’s done. The end result is delicious, mouthwatering pasta that’s bursting with the essence of Italy.

You’ve just learned valuable kitchen secrets: How to cook perfect pasta every time! When your entree literally sings with Italian authenticity it’s downright culinary magic.Do you have tips to share for how to cook perfect pasta? Let’s learn from one another. Share your kitchen secrets in the comments below. And thanks for visiting Confetti & Bliss!PS: Save this valuable resource for later. Pin your favorite pasta image to Pinterest.

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  1. Even after living in Italy, I never know what pasta will go well with what sauce. Thanks so much for sharing this! I’m pinning so that I can reference it later.


    1. Allison, you are so sweet! Thanks so much for pinning this pasta resource to Pinterest. I really appreciate it! :-)

  2. This is awesome! It’s so nice to have a guide to pairing pasta with something other than tomato or Alfredo sauce.

  3. I always knew there was some sort of guideline like this, but never knew what it was! My boyfriend brings home spaghetti all the time (his favorite) and I tend to go for bigger pieces. I love the suggestions for pasta salads–my next one will have corkscrews for sure!

  4. I knew that some sauces tasted better on different pastas – but I had no idea that there was a reason for it! Thanks for enlightening me!