A staple of cuisines around the world, pasta forms the basis an infinite variety of quick, delicious meals. Linguini, fettuccini, spirals, shells, penne, farfalle, fusilli, orechietti, rigatoni, the list goes on!

What types of pasta are best suited to certain dishes? Shorter, thick pasta shapes (such as spirals, shells and penne) stand up well to thicker sauces and in casseroles; the surface area of the pasta holds the sauce better. Thinner long pieces, such as spaghetti, are better for lighter sauces.

See cooking tips for both regular and gluten-free pasta.

Cook pasta in plenty of salted, boiling water until al dente, meaning "to the tooth." When you bite into a piece of pasta you should feel a slight resistance in the center — it should be firm and not soft.

Most pasta is made from semolina, which is milled from the durum wheat kernel, a hard wheat variety with a very high gluten content and high protein to carbohydrate ratio. Since semolina is high in gluten and more coarsely ground than other flours, the resulting pasta is strong and flexible, and holds its shape well when cooked.

Pasta also can be made of ingredients other than wheat:

  • Spelt pasta — Spelt is an ancient grain with a nutty flavor. It’s a distant cousin to wheat and contains gluten, although some wheat-sensitive people can tolerate spelt-based foods. It’s naturally high in fiber and contains significantly more protein than wheat. PCC carries spelt pastas — both refined and whole-grain — in a variety of shapes.
  • Sprouted grain pasta — Sprouting seeds, grains and legumes is said to increase digestibility and the bio-availability of nutrients. These hearty pastas are made of sprouted whole wheat, barley, millet, lentils, soybeans and spelt.
  • Kamut pasta — Kamut is an ancient variety of wheat that some wheat-sensitive people may tolerate, but it does contain gluten. Kamut pasta has a delicious nutty, buttery taste and appealing texture.
  • Soba noodles — Soba noodles are made of buckwheat, which, despite its name, is not wheat and not related to wheat. In Japan, soba is valued for its warming and strengthening qualities. It often is served during cold months in hot broth or in stir-fries but it also can be served in the summer in chilled noodle broth or salads. It’s important to cook soba al dente since they’re fragile if overcooked.
  • Gluten-free pasta — PCC carries many gluten-free pastas. They can be made with quinoa, corn, rice, potato or soy. Search our gluten-free pastas in our gluten-free database.

Learn about our bulk pasta ».

Pasta sauces

We all know that a plate of pasta is only as good as its sauce, and we've got plenty to please you. Our shelves are stocked with jars of simple favorites such as marinara and pesto, but we've also got specialty sauces with everything from Italian sausages to chanterelle mushrooms to olive and capers to merlot and even vodka! Pasta will always be a comfort food — but there's no reason not to dress up this old favorite with fun flavors.

More about: pasta, sauces