WHAT IS LINGUINE?
The name translates as “little tongues” in Italian. However unless you’re the lead singer of Kiss, a 10 inch (26 cm) long tongue isn’t “little” for most of us. Compared to spaghetti, linguine has a flatter, more exotic look. But not as much as its’ big brother, the wider and even flatter fettuccine. This is why heavier meat and cream sauces are more often paired with fettuccine (the more robust the sauce the more robust the pasta). So maybe a better question is, what is linguine really good for? Well, spinach is usually served with linguine while fettuccine is paired with broccoli. And broccoli sucks, so score one point for linguine. Also fettuccine is often made with eggs. The reality here is that linguine’s apparent “caught in the middle” mediocrity is its’ strength. “Little tongues” work with a wider range of recipes then either spaghetti or fettuccine can by themselves.
WHERE IS LINGUINE MADE?
Liguria is the birthplace of this underappreciated cut. Known as the Italian Riviera, this coastal region is in the northwest bordering France. Countries near the French Riviera that are more affordable (like Croatia) are often given this nickname. The land in Liguria consists of steep cliffs and a rocky coastline. So the lack of meat is understandable in the local cuisine. But the lack of lots of fish recipes is a bit more surprising. You see a plethora of vegetarian friendly dishes. This area is also home to the pasta cut trofie along with pansotti.
IS LINGUINE A BULLSHIT CUT?
So a while back a journalist wrote an article titled “What Is The World’s Greatest Pasta Shape? Or, Why Linguine Is Bullshit“. In the article, he states “I often get frustrated with spaghetti because spaghetti is often so thick and so slippery that even if you execute a perfect twirl using a spoon for leverage… the spaghetti still has a tendency to slip right off your fork….Linguine presents the exact same problem. In fact, linguini is even worse because it’s flat and therefore specifically tailored to slipping through the gaps of your fork tines. Linguine is bullshit. I’ve tried for ages to get my wife to recognize the importance of angel hair.” If the only criteria is ease of twirling around a fork then yes. But instead view this from the perspective of what pasta works best with which sauce? Then angel hair is not the best choice. It simply won’t hold up to the same sauces that linguine will. But if you mostly eat spaghetti, anything that pasta can do, these “little tongues” can do better. While fettuccine is linguine on steroids, it is often made fresh and served with eggs. So it isn’t really the same as quickly grabbing a handful of dry pasta, throwing it into some boiling water, et voila dinner is almost served.
WHAT SAUCES GO WELL WITH LINGUINE?
For the purist locavore, most Ligurian recipes will focus heavily on herbs, spices and vegetables with a splash of protein for those special occasions. Walnuts or pine nuts (for pesto) are popular ingredients. In general most spaghetti recipes like carbonara or cacio e peppe will work just as well or better with “little tongues”. If you’d like to see one of our recipes using this cut check out our Grana Padano sauce recipe!