The anger. The resentment. The name-calling. The accusations. The foulness. The glares. The ignorance. The bitterness. The pettiness. The disillusion.

These are the words that keep streaming past my eyes when I think of one thing….being apathetic to pasta noodle options. It is such a personal decision and people take great pride in their choice.

How can we come to a resolution and decide that no matter which noodle we love best, there is a place in this world for all shapes and sizes of pasta.  (Unless you don’t like pasta at all and want to go live in Canada.)

I started to think about all of this anger this week for some reason (hmmm, I wonder why?) when someone asked me what is the best pasta to make for dinner. That is like asking someone to chose just one crayon out of the box! It just depends on what you are looking for!!!

When I asked for more detail, I was told it doesn’t matter….it is just pasta! It was enough to make me want to sling profanities, tell them they were small-minded and defriend them for life. (Okay, I have to stop watching the news this week….it is making me react violently.)

When you pick your pasta shape think of it like choosing your President shoes. When you put on your shoes in the morning, do you think about how those shoes need to function for you? Do you want a sensible pair of pumps or are you the type to slip into a pair of loafers? Do you want to look like one of the popular kids or maybe you want to march to your own drummer? What do you want to accomplish and which shoes can help you reach your goals?

Pasta is a lot like that. The key is to match your pasta shape to fit your sauce and know that there are just going to be some times when it doesn’t go your way.

So here are some basic thoughts in case you need to go on a comfort food binge in the next 4 years.

  1. Long and Lean = Light: Think of a light marinara or olive oil based sauce on your basic spaghetti noodle.
  2. Curvy Pasta Are the Most Forgivable: Pasta like fusilli or gemelli have all the nooks and crannies so you get a better pasta to sauce sopping ration. There are more places for pesto to sneak in or for a tidbit of meat to hide.
  3. Go Tubing: If you have a heavy meat sauce, this is the best time to use your mostacioli, ziti or rigatoni. They are sturdy enough to keep their shape under the weight of a heavier sauce plus they have caverns to hide all sorts of delicious goodness!
  4. Fat and flat: (Besides being a good name for me I were a rapper) The fatter, flat noodles like a fettuccine or linguine just seem to adapt the best to creamier, sauces. These pasta shapes seem to utilize their surface area and really sop up the sauce.

Now these are just some basic guidelines (and there are a lot of third party shapes that have been left out of the discussion).

I guess what it comes down to is that there are many shapes and sizes of pasta and there may be some you love and some you hate. Maybe you will have to adapt to the new flavor your shape brings out in your sauce or maybe you will have make your sauce adjust to the shape you have in your pantry. Whatever you do…just realize that you are in control to find your own happiness, joy and love by what is given to you and what you can make of it.

Pancetta, Fennel and Spinach Spaghetti
 
I had originally intended this to be on a heartier noodle but I worked with what I had and came out a happy gal!
Ingredients
  • 4 ounces pancetta, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 fennel bulb, finely chopped
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • red pepper flakes (a shake or two)
  • ½ cup whipped cream
  • ½ pound of spaghetti or whatever you have (this sauce is forgiving)
  • 2 cups chopped spinach
  • Lots of fresh parmesan (by lots I mean at least ¼ cup or more)
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh cracked pepper
Instructions
  1. Don't start past just yet. I'll tell you when to start it but do get a big pot of water boiling.
  2. In a large non-stick saute pan, add about 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Cook the pancetta until it gets just a tiny bit crispy.
  3. Remove from pan but leave any drippings in pan.
  4. Add the butter to pan and lower the heat to medium low.
  5. Add butter and let it melt until it starts to bubble.
  6. Add the fennel, garlic and shake of red pepper.
  7. Cover for about 10-15 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  8. Start your pasta and cook per directions. Make sure when you drain it to reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.
  9. Put your spinach in your colander. When you drain your pasta, pour it over the spinach.
  10. Meanwhile, your fennel should be nice and tender.
  11. With the heat on low, add the whipped cream to fennel.
  12. Reduce it until it thickens up a little.
  13. Toss it with the cooked pasta, spinach and cheese. If it isn't saucy enough, slowly add a little of the pasta water so the sauce coats the pasta.
  14. Serve with a little more parmesan and a few good grinds of fresh pepper.