|Pasta comes in many shapes and sizes and are defined by regions in Italy.
Below is a list and description of some of my favorites
along with their translations.
Capellini ("Angel Hair")
It cooks in just 2 minutes. It's great for lighter entrees or sides dishes, or broken
up for soups. Use with thin tomato or broth-based sauces, or toss with
olive oil, finely chopped cooked vegetables and shrimp.
Spaghetti ("A Length of Cord")
Match with meaty tomato, creamy seafood, broth or olive oil-based sauces. The earthy
flavor and rough texture of whole-wheat or spelt spaghetti pair well with delicate
sauces, olive oil or broth-based sauces, herbs and fresh vegetables.
Fusilli ("Twisted Spaghetti")
This long, spiraled shape can be topped with any sauce or broken in
half and added to soups, or turned into a beautiful salad.
Linguine ("Little Tongues")
Both white or red clam sauces are traditional with this 1/16-inch-wide pasta.
It comes smooth or with ridges (Lingulne Rigati), and goes well as almost any sauce.
Ribbons and Strips
Fettuccine ("Small Ribbons")
Perfect for heavier sauces, like cheese, meat and tomato sauces. This
1/8-inch wide noodle is classically paired with a creamy Alfredo sauce.
Pappardelle ("To Gobble Up")
These 1-inch-wide noodles match up to hearty meat, cream and vegetable sauces.
Great with braised short ribs. In Tuscany they're served with duck or rabbit sauces.
Lagsana ("To Layer")
Wide pasta with or without curled edges that are used mainly for layering with
ingredients spread out in between sheets of the pasta
usually meats, cheeses and sauces.
Tubeti ("Little Tubes")
Small little tubes that are great for soup and vegetable dishes like "Pasta Fugioli"
Rigatoni ("Large Grooved")
Rigatoni's ridges and holes are perfect with any sauce, from cream or cheese to the
chunkiest meat sauces. Short, fat tubes with ridges on the exterior can be paired
with hearty meat sauces, or chunky vegetable sauces of eggplant,
tomatoes and bell peppers.
Short, hollow tubes that are cut diagonally. Penne rigate have ribbed surfaces,
while penne lisce are smooth. This pasta can go with a wide range of
sauces, from meat to cheese. Use in salads and casseroles,
This medium-sized tube is slightly curved and pairs well with any chunky,
hearty tomato, cheese, cream or meat, or vegetable based sauce.
Used for casserole dishes like the favorite "Baked Ziti".
Ditalini ("Little Thimbles")
This small versatile shape can be used as the base of any dish, soups or salads.
A highly popular shape that can be topped with any sauce,
casseroles or put in soups and salads. A favorite for Mac & Cheese
Tiny shells for soups or a medium size for casserole dishes, salads and side dishes.
Large shells and Jumbo Shells but can be stuffed with your favorite
mixtures of cheese, meat or vegetable and baked.
The pasta is cut into squares, then pinched in the center to make it's shape.
Pair with creamy béchamel based sauces, or toss with olive oil,
herbs and sliced vegetables for salads.
Rotini's spiral or twisted shape holds bits of meat, vegetables and cheese,
so it works well with any sauce, or you can use it to create fun salads,
casseroles, or American style stir fry meals.
Wagon Wheels make interesting salads, casseroles and soups,
or simply top with sauce and enjoy. Kids love them.
Pastina ("Little Pasta")
A favorite among mothers for there young children. Easy to digest and
quick cooking. Just add some butter after straining. Good for soups.
Ancini di Pepe ("Peppercorns")
These tiny bead shaped pastas are made especially for soups and salads.
Can be treated just like Couscous.
Orzo ("Small Grain")
A small, grain shaped pasta for soups, salads or quick sides dishes. Use with lighter
sauces. This small, grain shaped pasta can be topped with any sauce or added
to soups and casserole. Use instead of rice or potatoes as a side dish,
and it makes a great salad.
Raviloi ("Little Turnips")
Small pillow-like pieces of pasta filled a savory mixture of meat, cheese or vegetables.
Can come in various sizes. Small ones are good with a thick tomato sauce or
soup and the large ones are good with a brown sage butter sauce.
Tortellini ("Little Torts")
Fresh pasta dough cut into small rounds, folded around a cheese or meat
filling and then boiled. Good for all kinds of sauces especially an Alfredo .
Perfect with a simple broth. "Tortellini in Brodo"
Manicotti are large hollow pasta tubes, approximately 3 to 4 inches long and is 1 inch in
diameter and is typically stuffed with a cheese mixture and baked in flavorful sauces.
Cannelloni ("Large Reeds or Cane")
Cannelloni usually refers to rectangular pasta sheets that are rolled with a filling.
However, sometimes the pasta dough is replaced with a cooked crêpe.
After cooking the crêpe (or boiling the pasta), it is typically filled with a
savory stuffing which may include ricotta cheese, spinach,and
various meats. It is then covered with a sauce, typically
a classic tomato or bechamel sauce and baked.
Cannelloni is often confused with manicotti,
the major difference being that manicotti
are pre shaped hard tubes
and then stuffed.