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Paccheri pasta consists of large noodles that are used in a variety of rich Italian dishes as well as for certain types of soups and casseroles. The best type of pasta that you choose partially depends on what meal you are cooking. Paccheri noodles are sold in supermarkets, but they are not as common as other type of packaged pastas, so you might have to find them at specialty stores. Whole wheat pasta is generally healthier than the more common enriched-flour versions, but it is especially harder to find in most regions. If you are accustomed to making noodles from scratch, you might consider making homemade paccheri pasta prior to using it for your dishes.
This type of pasta contains large hollow noodles that are in the shape of tubes. They are larger in size than rigatoni and ziti, but are still shorter than manicotti noodles. For a twist on traditional Italian meals, you can substitute them for the flat noodles used in lasagna, or even use them in place of ziti. Paccheri pasta is popular for its texture as well as the fact that it can hold heavier sauces well.
Large, hollow pasta works best with meals with heavy tomato sauces, cheeses, or creams because the noodles hold and absorb liquids easily. For this reason, many cooks like to add the noodles to rich casseroles and heavy soups. Paccheri pasta does not work as well with lighter sauces or minimal ingredients because of the effect that it has on liquids. As a result, you might taste the pasta but not the other ingredients if you use the noodles in the wrong types of recipes.
Since paccheri pasta is not as common as other types of noodles, it might be difficult to find them in your local supermarket. Specialty Italian stores, farmer’s markets, and online outlets are alternative places where you can find the noodles for your particular recipes. If you prefer whole wheat versions, you might have an even more difficult time finding the paccheri pasta because enriched-flour versions are generally the most common form. Cooks sometimes substitute rigatoni noodles in a recipe if they cannot locate any paccheri pasta.
Another option you have is to make your own noodles at home, especially if you have experience in making other types of pasta. Pasta machines are extremely helpful in mixing the ingredients, and you can find special cutters to help to ensure that you shape the noodles correctly. More experienced homemade pasta makers often roll out the dough and cut it into noodles themselves, but this can be a daunting task for beginners. Typical ingredients for pasta include your choice of flour, as well as olive oil and seasonings.