Lidia Bastianich Says This Is The Best Pasta For Bolognese Sauce

According to Lidia Bastianich, "there's more than 370 different shapes of pasta in Italy" (via Facebook). So how do you know which one is right for which situation? With so many options to choose from, making that choice can be overwhelming. You practically need a guide to pasta shapes and the best way to use them.

While the dish may often be called "spaghetti Bolognese," spaghetti might not be the best choice of those 370 to pair with a Bolognese sauce. Spaghetti are long thin noodles that take their name from the Italian word "spaghetto" or little cord. CBS 19 News reports that spaghetti is the preferred form of pasta across the globe. But being a thin pasta, your sauce may just slide off. An easy guideline to remember is that for thin pastas, you want to use thin sauces. A light sauce like that seen in Italian classic spaghetti aglio e olio recipe is best for thin pastas like spaghetti or angel hair. That said, the variety also plays well with thin sauces with big forkable chunks, like clam sauce or this five-ingredient summer pasta recipe.

So what do you pair with a hearty Bolognese?

Picking the right pasta

Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, there are a few things that Lidia Bastianich says always apply to your pasta purchasing. Bastianich stresses the importance of using a high-quality pasta. How do you know if pasta is high quality? One of Bastiancich's top tips for picking the best dried pasta is to pick "100% semolina pasta."

The celebrity chef's first choice to pair with this rich sauce is easily accessible rigatoni. Rigatoni is a short, wide form of tubular pasta that takes its name from the Italian for "ridged." Its wide center means it scoops up thick sauces well and sauce clings to the outer ridges, as well. Bastianich adds that the ridges add "a nice tactile sensation."

Don't have rigatoni on hand? You still have options. Penne rigate is another great option that Bastianich recommends. There are two types of Penne: smooth, called penne lisce or mostaccioli, and penne rigate, or ridged. Like rigatoni, this is a tubular, ridged pasta, but its tube is thinner and it's cut on an angle. Likewise, it will scoop up sauce and hold sauce in its ridges.

A third winning option is bowtie-shaped farfalle. This pasta that's "pinched in the middle" "stays more al dente" right at that point, giving it "a nice bite," Bastianich says. For an added bonus, sauce will get lodged in the folds around the pinch.