- The Washington Times - Monday, April 11, 2005

For years, I was enamored of the thinnest pasta shapes. Capellini strands or the aptly named capelli d’angelo (angel hair) were essential in my recipes. The speed of cooking and the delicate texture appealed to me.

I haven’t given up on thin noodles, but my current craving is for pasta I can sink my teeth into. I’m not the only one who has discovered big, bodacious noodles.

A look through recent cookbooks tells me fat is in, at least when it comes to pasta.

For example, tagliatelle, fettuccine and pappardelle star in a luscious cookbook, “Alfred Portale Simple Pleasures” (William Morrow), published just a few months ago. The robust seafood or meat sauces from the chef of the Gotham Bar and Grill in New York City are well-matched with larger pasta shapes.

If you love pasta mixed with hearty chunks of beef, lamb or shrimp, you need to explore the broad side. Wider pasta shapes may require a minute or two longer to prepare, but the time addition is not significant.

Here’s what to look for:

Fettuccine. Pasta cut about 1/4 inch wide. Some versions are basically flour, water and salt; others include egg. Fettuccine noodles are usually sold flat, but some manufacturers bundle the noodles in nests.

Tagliatelle. Egg noodles about 1/4 inch wide. I almost always see these formed into noodle nests. If you can’t find tagliatelle, regular egg noodles are a good substitute.

Pappardelle. Long, flat noodles more than a 1/2 inch wide, usually packaged flat, like lasagna noodles.

The following recipe, for shrimp and sugar snap peas, is a tasty introduction to tagliatelle. Because cooking times vary greatly by brand, I’m not suggesting one. Follow your package directions.

Shrimp and sugar snap peas over tagliatelle

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 cups sugar snap peas

1 garlic clove, minced

8 ounces shelled and deveined large raw shrimp

1 scallion, green part only, chopped

1 small Fresno chili, cored, seeded and minced

1 tablespoon minced Italian parsley

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon butter

3 ounces cooked tagliatelle

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add peas and garlic, and saute for 2 to 3 minutes, or until peas are vivid green and crisp-tender. Remove and set aside. Add remaining olive oil to skillet and heat. Add shrimp; cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until just cooked through. Stir in sugar snap peas, scallion, chili, parsley, salt and pepper to taste, butter, and tagliatelle. Heat through. Makes 2 servings.

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