Posted by: lisetta | September 9, 2010

I ♥ Rigatoni

I’ve been trying to eat the pasta in my pantry this summer without buying more. I can think of no reason a single woman living within walking distance of several (smelly) grocery stores and ethnic food shops needs to have about ten boxes of DeCecco of various shapes. Can you? Maybe it’s like a security blanket of sorts?

Contrary to what anyone who reads this blog might believe, I actually eat pasta only once or twice a week. I’ve been working my way through a box of rigatoni now for several weeks. Tonight I cooked some with a homegrown tomato sauce, chopped olives (castelveltrano, picholine and green and black cerignola), sweet onion and basil. It’s like the third time I’ve made the same sauce, and I always eat the bowl before thinking to photograph it.

The Encyclopedia of Pasta tells me the rigatoni shape is most typical in Southern Italy. A factory-made, straight-cut pasta corta (short pasta) with ridges to better hold the sauce,  it appears under various names in different dialects (e.g. bombardoni, cannerozzi, scaffittuni).

In Roviano, in Lazio, near Subiaco, the popular imagination has given rigatoni the name scorzasellari, “celery peelers”, because the ridging makes them look like ribs of celery. p.237

There’s actually another pasta corta shape named after celery: sedani. These look like rigatoni! What is the difference, I wonder? Is it simply an artifact of Italy’s rich regional culture of food? What the encyclopedia doesn’t tell me, a manufacturer will. God bless the applied practitioners at DeCecco:

Sedani, as shown on the DeCecco site

Sedani rigati (grooved celery) whose provenance is difficult to define with certainty, they are straight cut tubes. They have a 8,3 mm diameter and are 41 mm long and have a thickness ranging between 1,23 and 1,29 mm.Sedani rigati are excellent with elaborate meat and mushroom or sausage ragùs, also perfect for baked caseroles.

Rigatoni, as shown on the DeCecco site

Rigatoni are big ridged tubes and belong to the straight cut dried pasta family, with a 16 mm diameter, an average length of 45 mm and a thickness ranging between 1,11 and 1,18 mm. Their provenance is uncertain but could easily be a speciality of the Campania region. It is a rather versatile format and is suitable with tomato or vegetable sauces, but the rigatoni are at their best with chunky meat sauces and ragùs: stew sauces, meat and mushrooms, veal and pork, sausage and giblet ragùs. All these thick sauces however should be moist enough to allow the sauce to cling to the pasta’s ridges and hole.

I guess the wider diameter and extra 4 mm of length actually makes a difference? There’s just something about the rigatoni. Or maybe nerding out on pasta is what I do when I am avoiding the other intellectual tasks I should be focusing on, like suggesting seminar topics for a professional development session I’ve been invited to run. Maybe they’d like to hear about pasta shapes?

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Responses

  1. LOL – never know, they might LOVE to hear about pasta shapes. I liked it. I’m not nearly as well-versed, but I understand the part about ridges for thick sauces. Thanks for a little more pasta shape info – I’m amazed there are so many. And it’s nice to have a well stocked pantry – never know what you’ll need, right?


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