I was looking this morning at this pasta I brought home from Italy, made from farro. I found what sounds like a delicious recipe for this particular kind of pasta, or for a whole wheat pasta, from Pino Luongo and Mark Strausman’s book, Two Meatballs in the Italian Kitchen. A great book, by the way! Anyway, the sauce is simple-you just saute alot of garlic in EVOO, add some crushed or whole San Marzano tomatoes, and some red hot pepper flakes. It’s so simple but it goes so well with a hearty farro or whole wheat penne. What a delicious Sunday lunch we are to have today! Molto bene!
Anyway, it got me thinking about all the pastas in my kitchen. Did I mention I keep a pasta drawer?
It may sound crazy to have a whole drawer dedicated to just pasta, but it works for me, and it worked for my mom. My mom’s drawer was even larger than mine-twice the size! But the point is, we both like to keep all kinds of pastas and shapes of pasta on hand. You never know when you may feel like long spaghetti or tiny ancini di pepe for your zuppa.
I was at Rachael’s house once and someone asked her how you decide which shape to use when. The answer makes sense-you want to have a pasta that will work with your sauce. So if you are making some kind of sauce that is chunky, like a Pasta ala Norma or a Puttanesca, you want to use a short pasta with ridges so the pasta shape and size matches the chunks, making it easy to grab pasta and sauce in the same forkful.
Rachael’s Tuna Puttanesca uses penne pasta
Conversely, if you have a smooth Carbonara or a red sauce, for example, with big meatballs, a long, thin spaghetti works well as the sauce will literally coat the pasta and the meat is so big anyway, that you’ll be eating that separately.
As far as ingredients go, you mainly find semolina dried, fresh pasta, whole wheat pasta, farro and rice pasta. You can try to use them interchangeably, but here are some Rachael dishes she has created for the semolinas and whole wheats:
Whole wheat pasta recipes:
Regular, dried semolina pasta:
My version of the Pino and Mark dish, made with farro pasta: