What type of pasta goes best with pesto sauce?

Introduction: The Perfect Pairing

When it comes to Italian cuisine, few combinations are as perfect as pasta and sauce. With an almost endless variety of pasta shapes and sauces, it can be challenging to determine which pairings work best. However, one of the most beloved and versatile pasta sauces is pesto, a delicious blend of basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and olive oil. But with so many pasta shapes to choose from, what type of pasta goes best with pesto sauce? In this article, we will explore the origins and characteristics of pesto sauce and the types of pasta that complement it.

The Origins of Pesto Sauce

Pesto sauce originated in the Liguria region of Italy, where basil grows abundantly. The word pesto comes from the Italian word "pestare," which means to pound or crush. Traditionally, pesto sauce was made by crushing the ingredients together in a mortar and pestle, creating a smooth paste. Today, most people use a food processor or blender to make pesto, which is faster and easier. Pesto sauce has become a staple in Italian cuisine, and it is now enjoyed worldwide.

The Characteristics of Pesto Sauce

Pesto sauce has a distinctive flavor profile that is both fresh and bold. The basil provides a bright herbaceousness, while the garlic adds a pungent kick. The pine nuts give the sauce a nutty richness, and the parmesan cheese provides a salty umami flavor. Olive oil ties everything together, creating a smooth and creamy texture. Pesto sauce is incredibly versatile and can be used in many dishes, from pasta to sandwiches to roasted vegetables.

Types of Pasta that Complement Pesto Sauce

When it comes to pairing pasta with pesto sauce, the options are nearly endless. However, some pasta shapes work better than others, depending on the thickness and texture of the sauce. Here are some of the most common pasta shapes that complement pesto sauce:

Linguine: The Classic Choice

Linguine is a long, thin pasta that works well with pesto because it has a flat surface that can hold the sauce. The pasta’s delicate texture also allows the pesto to shine. Linguine is a classic choice for pesto pasta dishes and pairs well with other ingredients, such as cherry tomatoes and grilled chicken.

Farfalle: The Perfect Match

Farfalle, also known as bowtie pasta, is a whimsical pasta shape that complements pesto sauce beautifully. The bowtie shape creates nooks and crannies that hold the sauce, and the pasta’s ridges provide a perfect texture for pesto. Farfalle pasta pairs well with peas and cherry tomatoes for a vibrant and colorful dish.

Fusilli: The Twisted Option

Fusilli pasta is a corkscrew-shaped pasta that is perfect for holding chunky sauces. The twists and turns of the pasta allow the pesto to cling to the noodles, creating a satisfying bite. Fusilli pasta pairs well with roasted vegetables, such as zucchini and bell peppers.

Penne: The Go-To for Chunky Pesto

Penne pasta is a tubular-shaped pasta that works well with chunky pesto sauces. The ridges on the pasta help to catch the sauce, making each bite flavorful and satisfying. Penne pasta pairs well with grilled chicken and sun-dried tomatoes for a hearty and filling meal.

Gnocchi: The Creamy Combination

Gnocchi is a potato-based pasta that pairs well with creamy pesto sauces. The soft and pillowy texture of the pasta complements the smooth and velvety texture of the sauce. Gnocchi pasta pairs well with grilled shrimp and asparagus for a decadent and indulgent meal.

Risotto: The Unconventional Pairing

While not technically a pasta, risotto is a creamy and comforting dish that pairs surprisingly well with pesto sauce. The creaminess of the risotto complements the boldness of the pesto, creating a satisfying and flavorful dish. Risotto pairs well with grilled mushrooms and parmesan cheese for a rich and earthy meal.

In conclusion, choosing the right pasta shape to pair with pesto sauce can make all the difference in creating a delicious and satisfying meal. Whether you prefer a classic linguine or a whimsical farfalle, there is a pasta shape that will complement the bold and fresh flavors of pesto sauce. So next time you make pasta with pesto, consider trying a different pasta shape and discover a new favorite dish.

Photo of author

Elise DeVoe

Elise is a seasoned food writer with seven years of experience. Her culinary journey began as Managing Editor at the College of Charleston for Spoon University, the ultimate resource for college foodies. After graduating, she launched her blog, Cookin’ with Booze, which has now transformed into captivating short-form videos on TikTok and Instagram, offering insider tips for savoring Charleston’s local cuisine.

Leave a Comment