Picking Perfect Pasta & Sauce Combinations

Picking the perfect pasta

Picking Perfect Pasta & Sauce Combinations

When you walk through the pasta aisle in the grocery store, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the options. From regular pasta to whole wheat pastas, fettuccini, bow tie or shells, you always wonder what you can do with each one. Is there specific sauce that goes best each type? What’s the best way to cook it?


You might be thinking, ‘it’s just pasta, I can’t ruin pasta’. But believe it or not, you can. If you undercook your pasta, you run the of it being crunchy and almost un-servable. Also, if you over cook your pasta, It will turn to mush. Let’s look at some tips to perfect your pasta making abilities.


  1. Always cook your pasta is very large pot with salted water. You need to give your pasta enough room to move around to prevent it from sticking together.
  2. Remember to add some salt to the water. Not only will this flavour the pasta itself but it will also prevent it from sticking together.
  3. Don’t cook the pasta all the way. Drain the boiling water when its tender and add the sauce. Allow it to cook a few minutes further with the sauce and it should be perfect for serving.
  4. When you drain the pasta, save a cup or two of the water. Once you have returned the pasta to the sauce, you might find that it’s too dry. By adding some the pasta water, opposed to regular water, the starch still found in the water will help the sauce cling to the pasta!
  5. Drain your pasta but don’t let it dry. If it dries, pasta will return to a firm and starchy state. As it dries, it is also more prone to stick together.
  6. If you are planning a meal with a side dish, keep in mind the cooking time for the pasta. Prepare your sauce and salad prior to cooking your pasta so to prevent pasta from overcooking, or drying out while you prepare another dish.

Let’s look at some different pasta styles or shapes! This will help you pick the best pasta for a specific dish and an accompanying sauce that it might fit best with what you are serving.

Remember these are just guides, it’s your dish! Personalize it with your own sauces, meats, veggies or cheeses. The options are endless!



Bowties (or commonly known as Farfalle) is a universal pasta. It makes a great cold pasta salad but can also be served warm with a variety of different meats, cheeses or veggies.

Suggested sauces: butter or oil with spices of your choice, cheese or alfredo or tomato based sauce. Versatile enough you can add your own meat or veggies to compliment the dish.



Shells are another pasta that can be used in many different situations. If you are able to find large shells, they can be stuffed with your choice of meats and cheeses and baked in the oven. While medium sized shells work much better in casseroles and with meat sauces. The smallest shells are ideals for soups and stews especially ones that are chunky.

Suggested sauces: it is common that larger shells are baked with a cream/cheese or tomato/meat sauce. If you have stuffed the shells, consider something that compliments the what you stuffed them with.


Angel Hair

Angel hair is the finest of the pastas. Because it’s long and fine but they will cook very quickly so you need to ensure that it is watched to prevent it from being overdone. Angel hair best fits a delicate sauce such as a light tomato, broth and a favourite of just butter or oil.

Suggested sauces: butter or oil with spices, cream or cheese, pesto, seafood or tomato. Garlic cream sauce or a saucy vodka sauce are common with Angel Hair. You can also try it with a mushroom sauce.



Penne makes a perfect bed for just about any sauce or toppings because of how it is composed – 2 inches long and cut at both ends. It will hold any veggies or meat that are placed on top of it but with its hallow form, sauces will flow right through. Perfect for a chunky tomato sauce!

Suggested sauces: hearty sauces with veggies or baked with cheese, Bolognese or ragu.  



Ravioli is unique type of pasta. Since ravioli can be filled with things such as cheese, meats (even seafood) and veggies, it really minimizes any prep time that is required when it comes to making sauces.

Suggested sauces: like stuffed shells, sauces options should compliment what the ravioli is stuffed with. For example, cheese stuffed goes well with a red sauce such as tomato or marinara, eggplant ravioli with a ginger cilantro sauce is also good. For those picky eats, you can also use a white or alfredo.



Maybe one of the most common noodles is the elbow. This noodle is what is found in macaroni and cheese. Elbows can be served with sauce, baked or added into soup, salads and stir-fry. Take boring ole mac n’ cheese, and add seasonings, meats and veggies!

Suggested sauces: there is so much that can be done with elbows. If you serve it cold, you can use a combination of mayo and spices. When serving it warm, cheese and meat bake is common.



Fettuccine is a thicker, ribbon pasta that is commonly used with thick and meaty sauces. Usually

Suggested sauces: is commonly associated with an alfredo or white sauce but can also be served with pesto, ragu and asparagus.


There are many more pasta types out there that we haven’t even touched on yet. If you’re looking for something unique to serve guests for dinner, do your research when you are planning your menu and be the talk of the table the next time your pasta is served.









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