Best Italian Food

Mike Easton's Guide to Pasta

The chef behind Pioneer Square pasta temple Il Corvo breaks pasta into four categories (above)—handmade, extruded, laminated, and stuffed.

By Allecia Vermillion Photography by Sara Marie D’Eugenio January 26, 2017 Published in the February 2017 issue of Seattle Met

Handmade Pasta

A seemingly endless array of shapes—from dumplinglike gnocchi to orecchiette, shaped like little ears—formed by hand and served with similarly rustic, hearty sauces. “I could go on endlessly about hand-shaped noodles; there are so many beautiful ones. It’s the kind of thing an Italian grandma would do, so you don’t need tons of special tools.”  See also: cavatelli, trofie (short twists often served with pesto), pici (a fat, hand-rolled spaghetti), fusilli.

Extruded Pasta

Pasta shapes formed by forcing dough through a die; this family includes some of America’s most recognized pasta shapes (like spaghetti, linguine, or rigatoni) and lesser knowns like these flower-shaped fiori. “These shapes are newer, born from the machine age.” See also: bucatini, cavatappi.

Laminated Pasta

Anything rolled, either on a tabletop or in a pasta sheeting machine. Unless it’s for lasagna, it gets cut into ribbons big or small.Tagliare means “to cut.” So any pasta name with the prefix “tag” falls into this category, like tagliatelle. The hand-cut strands pictured above range from Piedmont’s delicate tajarin (“It’s typically sauced with something super light—just butter and sage is classic.”) to one-inch pappardelle, great for the chunky richness of bolognese.

Stuffed Pasta

An offshoot of the laminated dough family; dough cut into squares or circles, with filling inside are commonly associated with feasts and celebrations.  “There’s so much more than ravioli.” See also: agnolotti, tortellini, cappelletti, agnolotti dal plin.

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