Americans love pasta. Whether it’s spaghetti and meatballs in grandma’s secret Sunday gravy or the classic macaroni elbow in cheesy cheddar, the numbers speak for themselves.
As you’d expect, Italy leads the way in pasta production according to the most recent report from the International Pasta Organisation, but the United States isn’t that far behind. When it comes to consuming pasta, though, the U.S ranks sixth in terms of pasta consumption per capita in the same report.
Though we make more than we eat when full population figures are taken into consideration, when it comes to straight tonnage, consumed, the U.S. stands tall. While Italy consumes just over 1.5 million tons of pasta each year, here in the United States, we consume 2.7 million tons.
Here’s our official (unofficial) list of the best pasta shapes:
Spaghetti – You just can’t beat this classical shape, and it shouldn’t be any surprise that it’s at the top of the list. It’s versatile, great for just about any type of sauce, and it goes well with meatballs and red sauce, of course.
Macaroni – Though it also goes well with a wide variety of sauces, it’s hard to imagine macaroni without “n cheese.”
Fettuccine – Now that we have all the “kid shapes” out of the way, we can turn to some of the more traditional cuts. Fettuccine is certainly one of those. Great with chicken, seafood, and of course Alfredo sauce, it’s long, ribbon-like bands are great for soaking in flavors.
Penne – Here’s another versatile cut. From ala vodka or arribiata sauce to pasta salads, this short, hollow cut with ridged “rigata” holds flavor inside the tube and along the pasta’s ridges.
Farfalle – The famous bow-tie pasta not only holds flavors well in all it’s folds and edges, it’s also a fun method of delivery. Though small, they can pack a flavorful punch!
Tortellini – Speaking of small and packing a big punch, tortellini holds small pouches of cheese, meat, or both in it’s interior and comes in flavors ranging from spinach to tomato.
Ravioli – Kind of like a larger version of tortellini and acting kind of like an Italian dumpling, ravioli are stuffed with all types of flavorful fillings that can excite any type of palette.