Imagine an indulgent, comforting bowl of hearty beef ragu heaped over pappardelle to warm you up on a chilly autumn night like last night, or a zippy dish of lemon and white wine gemelli brightened with juicy cherry tomatoes and seasonal squash to enjoy after a fun summer day. I have a special place in my heart for all the carbs, but today, I want to shine a light on the variety of pasta shapes and the dishes they best suit. Some are filled, others short and others long. Sure, they all seem to taste the same, but make no mistake – not all pasta is made equal. I’ve enlisted the assistance of fellow pasta lovers to share their thoughts on the matter.
“When considering the ideal pasta shape, there is one qualifying factor that supersedes the rest: the efficiency of sauce and cheese delivery,” Erin McKeehan, fifth-semester economics major, said. I would be inclined to agree. Hollow pastas deserve a richer sauce to fill all their caverns, while thinner, longer pastas carry lighter sauces well. McKeehan continued,“For this reason, rigatoni is the best short [or] medium-length pasta for the ridges [along] capturing the sauce. While rigatoni is generally recognized, I believe perciatelli [or] bucatini is so unbelievably underrated in the long pasta lineup. How can you not appreciate the hole in the middle for sauce?”
Rigatoni also receives accolades from Shreya Sreenivas, fifth-semester computer science and physiology and neurobiology double major.
“I think rigatoni [is] the best short pasta especially for creamier sauces,” Sreenivas said. She chooses angel hair out of long pastas, which she believes is the best to eat with pesto, which Lisette Donewald, a fifth-semester political science, history and human rights triple major, agrees with, stating, “Angel hair is the only thin pasta worth eating.”
“I like angel hair pasta with butter even though it’s very basic because it’s so light,” Donewald said.
For other short shapes, shells and gemelli also top people’s lists.
“They hold sauce really well and I like the fun little surprise when they get stuck together,” Maggie Hausman, a fifth-semester NEAG student specializing in special education, said. Donewald enjoys shells for the same reason, especially with mac and cheese.
“I like a lot of pasta shapes but I think gemelli would be my favorite,” Jamie Masthay, a fifth-semester psychology major, said. “My mom makes a pasta dish with chicken and garlic and broccoli and always uses that shape, so I think partly it reminds me of my childhood and partly it’s just a fun shape.”
Personally, I have to put in a good word for penne out of the classic pasta shapes and either fettuccine or pappardelle as my long pasta pick. I will have to say that I would not necessarily have spaghetti as my first choice, which Sreenivas and Hausman echo. There are so many other options! Then again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder – or, deliciousness is in the tastebuds of the eater.
“All pasta is good pasta, though, as long as it’s made from the heart,” McKeehan said.
I certainly have my preferences, but as you may have noticed, I really do enjoy food of all kinds. The students I talked to similarly believe in the perfection of pasta.
“All of my opinions on pasta considered, I will still eat any pasta you put in front of me,” Hausman agreed.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to make myself a pot of pasta and dream about the day I can visit Italy to enjoy the food in its homeland.
Thumbnail photo of @jorge-zapata-610306 on Pexels.com.