To my experience, the best dried pasta is bronze-cut: The pasta dough is extruded through bronze dies, which makes the outer surface more rough than conventional pasta. This texture helps pick up and hold the sauce better.

Pictured is one of my favourite, widely available brands, Delverde. You might pay a premium (a dollar more, say) for these types of pasta, but when you work on per-portion basis, that isn’t much. If it goes on sale (I’ve regularly seen it available for $1 a package here in Montreal), stock up; it lasts forever and you’ll always have an option for a quick meal.

A word on calories, if you have to watch them: One portion (1/5 a package) of pasta has 300 calories (also 12 g of protein). If you prepare it without oil or animal products, you’re not adding much in the way of additional calories. For example, one tbsp of oil is 119 cals, and 28 g of lean ground beef is 100 cals. A cup of cherry tomatoes, on the other hand, is only 28 calories—not to mention it offers vitamins, antioxidants, lycopene, fibre, etc.