In case you’re still mourning the discontinuation of Ronzoni’s nostalgic star-shaped Pastina pasta shape, we have some carb news that might cheer you up. Pasta maker Sfoglini is teaming up with creator and host of The Sporkful Podcast Dan Pashman to add three likely new pasta shapes to your pantry. The two existing forms on the brand’s roster are the quattrotini and the vesuvio – fun to look at, fun to thrash about on your fork, and fun to eat. The third is a new form designed by Pashman himself, called cascatelli.
We say “probably new to you” because two of the forms can be found in small areas around Italy. You may have heard of quattrotini, a form of pasta served once a year during Carnival in a small region of Sicily. The original shape – four tubes connected by a four-sided rectangle – has been modified slightly to include ridges, making it easier to grab the sauce.
The second form, Vesuvius, was named for its resemblance to Mount Vesuvius. Short, round and anchored by a tall base that tapers into a thin cone, the sauce collects in the spirals promising a perfect bite every time. This form can be found in towns around the volcano that gives it its name, although it is very hard to find in the United States.
Pashman has long been on the hunt for the perfect pasta shape, a mission that sounds incredibly delicious. When creating pasta shapes, the podcast host has three goals, according to a Sfoglini press release: “forkability (how easy it is to put the pasta on the fork and keep it there), the sauce (the ability of the pasta shape to hold the sauce), and the ability to sink the teeth (how satisfying it is to bite into).You can really dive into his pasta-tasting adventures in the Mission: ImPASTable series.
Creating a new pasta shape takes a lot more than a single work session to nail down. The cascatelli shape took three years to develop, along with a deep dive into the little-known pasta shapes that exist in the farthest corners of Italy. The hope with this new collection is to honor Italian traditions while creating high-quality, American-made pasta that presents new shapes to pasta lovers across the United States.
The part of the equation that interests us the most? The taste test. “In the case of the quattrotini, there was no taste test — I saw a picture of it and became obsessed with it,” says Pashman. “I had never seen anything like it, but I couldn’t get my hands on it. Hardly anyone makes it, even in Italy, where it’s called cinque buchi. I tasted it for the first time just a few weeks ago and luckily it was as good as I thought it would be especially with the ridges I decided to add in. These not only have more sauce in them but create a textured feel noticeable in the mouth, which not all crests are.” The process was slightly different for vesuvio pasta, as Sfoglini co-founder and CEO Scott Ketchum shares via email.” We started by reading pasta books and catalogs to select shapes that sounded interesting and weren’t readily available here in the United States,” he says. “The first option, Vesuvius, was more familiar to us and only seemed to be available in a few stores in America. We tasted whatever variations we could find and were pleasantly surprised by the consistency of the sauce — and I especially enjoyed biting into it. He had a great capacity for absorbing teeth.
If you want to try them out for yourself, all three forms of The Sporkful Collection will be available for purchase on Sfoglini’s website on January 24.