It’s estimated that there are 350 types of pasta worldwide. They all vary in cut, shape, and thickness. While they are often tossed in sauce they can also be used in soups or made into cold salads. In order to choose the right pasta for your dish, you want to consider the pasta’s size, shape, and texture. Here are 5 unique pastas commonly found in popular authentic Italian dishes that can be found at Sansone Market:
Commonly known as bowtie pasta, farfalle is the Italian word for butterfly. However, in the Italian city of Italy it is known as strichetti. Meanwhile, there are larger and miniature versions – farfalloni and farfalline. It is made by cutting fresh pasta into small rectangles and pinching the centers together to form the bowtie or butterfly-like shape. According to culinary experts, farfalle is most often served with creamy sauces, fresh tomato sauces, and sauces featuring cheeses such as alfredo sauce.
Campanelle, the Italian word for “little bell,” is a bell-shaped pasta with fluted, petal-like edges. Its hollow center makes it ideal for capturing sauce and is ideal for meaty sauces or in casseroles. It also pairs well with dairy-based sauces like alfredo, paglia e fieno (a compilation of peas, cream, and spinach, and carbonara (made of eggs, cheese, and bacon). Since these sauces are high in fat, in authentic Italian cuisine they are meant to thinly coat, or “kiss,” the pasta. However, campanelle also pairs nicely with meat sauces, fish-based sauces, and heavier tomato sauces – making it a great addition for diversity in your pantry.
Acini di Pepe
Another one of the unique pastas is acini di pepe. Also referred to as pastina, acini di pepe translates to “small parts of the pepper” in Italian. Its miniscule size and rounded shape, similar to Israeli couscous, makes for a versatile pasta that can be used in a wide variety of dishes. However, it is most commonly used in soups and pasta salads. If you’re using it in a soup, you can cook it right in the broth. It expands considerably as it cooks and continues to soak in liquid as it sits. With this in mind, it is best to serve your soup as soon as the pasta is cooked.
Gnocchi are small, soft dumplings traditionally made from potatoes, eggs, and flour. It is known for being hearty and is great with rich sauces. Meanwhile, it can also be baked. gnocchi dough is often rolled out before being cut into small pieces. Then it is pressed with a fork or cheese grater to create ridges, which hold sauce. The gnocchi is cooked on its own in salted boiling water and then dressed in a sauce, depending on the sauce or recipe. And just like many Italian dishes, there is tremendous variation in recipes and names regionally. For instance, Tuscan gnudi contains less flour while Apulian cavatielli is flour based. Some types of gnocchi can even be made from cooked polenta or semolina. Traditionally, gnocchi is served as a first course in Italian cuisine.
Here is a Sansone Market gnocchi recipe for your dinner table this week:
Brown Butter Gnocchi with Spinach Pine Nuts
1 (16-ounce) package vacuum-packed gnocchi (such as Vigo)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (10-ounce) package fresh spinach, torn
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (1 ounce) finely shredded Parmesan cheese
1. Cook gnocchi according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.
2. Heat butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add pine nuts to pan; cook 3 minutes or until butter and nuts are lightly browned, stirring constantly. Add garlic to pan; cook 1 minute. Add gnocchi and spinach to pan; cook 1 minute or until spinach wilts, stirring constantly. Stir in salt and pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Orecchiette is very popular in Southern Italy, specifically Puglia, the sunny province where it originated. It directly translates to “little ears,” referring to its concave shape. The ridges and cup-like interior captures sauces well and can scoop up small vegetables. It pairs nicely with ingredients like peas, pancetta, and cream with the shape scooping up the peas and small chunks of meat. Puglia is the largest producer of extra virgin olive oil in Italy, with 50 to 60 million olive trees, so this pasta inherently is perfect for sautés, which feature with the oil.
While popular pastas like spaghetti, rigatoni, and penne are all great options, using these five unique pastas for your next dinner will expose you to some true authentic Italian cuisine. Each of these pastas can be conveniently found at Sansone Market and Sansone Food Products with a dedicated team who are ready to suggest recipes and pairings.