From bucatini to ziti, a pasta primer to help you with identification.
How to Make Pasta Types
These long, hollow spaghetti-like tubes are unusual and fun! Try them in casseroles or Asian stir-fries, or tossed with a fresh tomato sauce.
"Large reeds" in Italian, this is a large, tubular pasta with a smooth texture. It is usually boiled, stuffed with a cheese or meat filling, and baked in a sauce. Cannelloni are larger than manicotti.
Also known as "angel hair" pasta, the long, delicate strands are an appropriate match for almost any sauce. Try serving capellini with a walnut, garlic, and mushroom cream sauce, for an exceptional side.
This pasta takes its name from the Italian "conch shell." It comes in several sizes, and can be used in a striking variety of presentations. Stuff large shells (try a ricotta, pine nut, and spinach mixture, smothered with marinara sauce), toss mid-sized shells with chunky sauces, and use the tiniest ones in soups or casseroles.
Many people assume couscous is a grain, but it is actually granular little pearls of semolina pasta. It is a staple in North African cuisine, where it is often used to scoop up stew-like dishes. You can purchase couscous in Middle Eastern and health food stores and most supermarkets.
Italian for "thimbles," ditali are medium-sized, short tubes with smooth sides. Like most short pasta shapes, ditali are excellent used in soups, pasta salads, and to stand up to chunky sauces.
- Elbow macaroni:
This short, curved, tubular pasta is a favorite for macaroni and cheese and cold salads.
"Butterfly" in Italian, farfalle is also known as bow-tie pasta. It can be used in any dish that calls for small pasta shapes, such as penne or shells.
Wider than fettuccine, with one ruffled edge, fettuccia looks like half a lasagna noodle. Substitute fettucia in your favorite lasagna recipes for an elegant touch, or pair this substantial noodle with any sauce that has a lot of body.
Fettuccine is an egg pasta cut into long, narrow ribbons. It is wider than linguine, but is a fine as a substitute for linguine in most recipes. It is often served with cream sauces, as in the classic Fettuccine Alfredo.
Also known as rotelle, which means "small wheels" in Italian, this pasta has more of a spiral shape. It comes in several varieties: short and thick, short and thin, and long and thin.
These "little dumplings" are typically made from a potato or semolina dough. They are boiled and served with rich sauces; tomato-based or herb and butter sauces also work well.
This term refers to both a long, wide noodle and to the baked dish made with these noodles. The pasta is flat with either straight or curly edges. It is usually boiled, then layered with cheese, meat, and either a tomato-based or cream-based sauce. The casserole is then baked.
These long, flat noodles are somewhat thicker than spaghetti. The name means "little tongues" in Italian.
These noodles are large and tubular; they can have either a ridged or smooth texture. Manicotti are filled with cheese or meat fillings, and then baked. The term also refers to a dish of stuffed manicotti, usually with a tomato sauce.
Orzo means "barley," which is what this distinctive, tiny rice-like pasta resembles. Orzo is wonderful in soups and salads. Season the cooked orzo with salt and pepper, lemon, olive oil, and dill, and serve chilled for a tangy Mediterranean side salad.
These two-inch long tubular macaroni are sometimes referred to as mostaccioli. The noodles are diagonally cut at the ends, and very much resemble the "quill pen" for which they are named. This pasta is good with chunky meat or vegetable sauces.
Radiatore is Italian for "radiator," which is what these thick, ruffled pasta segments resemble. Like most sturdy pasta shapes, radiatore stand out when served with hearty, chunky sauces, or tossed with veggies in a fresh pasta salad.
Ravioli are little square pillows of dough filled with finely ground or chopped fillings. The Italian name translates as "little turnip." The ever-popular ravioli can be served with a sauce or in soups.
These short, grooved tubes can be used in casseroles and pasta salads, and are suitable for almost any sauce.
This kid favorite resembles short corkscrews. Bits of cheese, meat, or vegetables will cling to the grooves in rotini, so this is a great pasta to serve with chunky sauces.
This wagon-wheel-shaped pasta is a fun way to liven up goulash or mac and cheese. Since the "spokes" can hold lots of sauce or vegetables, try pairing ruote with thick, chunky sauces.
These dainty little star shapes perk up any broth. Use them in your favorite chicken noodle soup recipe T
These versatile rings of pasta can be stuffed with many types of savory fillings. The pasta is then folded in half, and the two ends are brought together to make a ring shape. Multi-colored pasta indicates the addition of beets, tomatoes, spinach, or squid ink for color and flavor. Tortellini can be drizzled with good olive oil, garlic, herbs, and parmesan cheese, paired with hearty sauces, or served in soups.
"Little worms" in Italian, vermicelli are fine strands of spaghetti. Use as a bed for sauced meat dishes, or toss with either a creamy or tomato-based sauce.
A slender, tubular pasta, ziti stands up to hearty sauces and is well-suited for use in baked pasta dishes.