The Pasta Rule Giada De Laurentiis Wants You To Break

Even when you're tired, uninspired, or short on time, you can make a quick and satisfying bowl of pasta for dinner. Your go-to recipe likely comes to mind, whether it's for mushroom and onion penne or a creamy pasta with seafood, so you get out the ingredients and start boiling the water when you realize there's a problem: Your cupboard contains several opened packages of pasta, but not one of them has enough for a full serving.

You have a few options from here. You could scrap your pasta plans altogether. You could also combine the different shapes together, but that might be complicated since the varying sizes may not cook at the same rate. You may wonder, "What would an Italian person do?" Or better yet, "What would Giada De Laurentiis do?" Luckily, the celebrity chef has just the tip for what to do when you find yourself in this seemingly impastable situation — and it may not be what you expect.

Italians mix different cuts of pasta to avoid waste

As De Laurentiis' Giadzy site reveals, mixing different types of pasta together is actually a very Italian thing to do, as it prevents waste. In fact, the practice of using up all your random remaining handfuls of pasta has its own name: pasta mista. In Italian, mista means mixed, and pasta mista has its roots in the city of Naples, where pasta factories came up with the idea to combine leftover cuts of fusilli, fettuccine, and more and sell them in one bag. According to The Guardian, you can still buy these today — or make your own mix of five or so pasta shapes of roughly the same size. 

If you're worried about the difference in cooking times, The Guardian says that the textural differences are just part of pasta mistas's charm, as some bites will be softer while others are more al dente. When in doubt, just reach for combinations of relatively similar thicknesses; you can break up your pieces of pappardelle to match your rigatoni, for example. Next time you find yourself low on one type of pasta, know that combining different shapes is the true Italian way.