CLASSIC pasta types of pasta








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long pasta

spaghetti: "little strings", long, thin strands of dried pasta. The standard against which others strands are compared.

spaghettini: thinner spaghetti (but not as thin as angel hair)

spaghettone: big spaghetti.

capellini tangelo (capelin): angel hairs: the thinnest and most delicate of the spaghetti family. Sometimes an egg pasta.

linguine: little tongues: narrow flat strands of dried pasta (usually). Sometimes a fresh pasta of the same size and shape can be call linguine.

bucatini: pierced pasta. Slightly thicker than spaghetti with a hole in the center. Sometimes called perciatelli.

vermicelli: also very thin and fine spaghetti. This term is used mostly in southern Italy.

bigoli: a whole wheat thicker than spaghetti pasta, common in Venice and the Veneto.

perciatelli: same as bucatini.

pici (or pinci): this is a hand-rolled pasta, primarily from the Montalcino and Pienza region. It resembles a slightly thick spaghetti, and generally comes in nests. Ideal for lamb and boar ragus.



penne: quills. The basic tubular pasta. About 5/16 inch in diameter, and about one-inch long, cut on the diagonal. Can be smooth (lisce) or with ridges (rigate).

garganelli: see under fresh pasta, although commercially one can sometimes get a maccheroni version.

elicoidali (a helix): these are tubes with ridges that have been cut squared off, not on the diagonal. The ridges curve around the tube in a raveling sort of way. Larger than penne.

cavatappi: not very common, but a great sauce coverer.. Really larger fusilli (see above) with holes in the middle, therefore qualifying as tubes.

maccheroni: now sort of an all-purpose general name for dried pasta.

chifferi: a maccheroni in sort of a half-moon shape, or an elbow. About one-inch long.

rigatoni: big penne, ribbed. Generally slightly curved. Large, fat and generally quite chewy.

rigatoncini: slightly smaller rigatoni.

millerighe: (thousand lines) bigger than rigatoni, more ridges, generally a little flatter tube, and straight.

ziti: (bridegrooms) these are smaller versions of rigatoni, about two inches long, and a staple of Naples.

paccheri: a tube pasta, wide and short. About 3/4 inches in diameter and 3/4 inches in length. Made with durum. A special favorite is paccheri di Gragnano, from what is reputably the premier durum flour pasta making village (near Napoli). Popular as a pasta with seafood and garlic.

mezze maniche: (striped sleeves) a pasta very similar to paccheri (see above): same size and shape, but generally made from regular flour and is usually found in the north -- Bologna, Genoa, etc.

special shapes

fusilli: short spiral strands of pasta that resemble a corkscrew. They also seem to be shaped like a metal spring. Fusilli lunghi are long strands of the same.

trofie or troffie: a Genoese home-made pasta that sort of resembles a corkscrew. Made by holding a two inch length of pasta under your fingertips, rolling it, and then hold both ends and twist it.

troffiette: these are really Genoese gnocchi, made with semolina flour, not potato. They have the twisted, squiggle-like shape.

conchiglie: shells, pure and simple. All kinds of base: tomato, spinach, etc. And can be small to fairly large.

farfalle: bow ties. Easily identified.

lumache (snails): these are curled pastas, not quite tubes, that resemble snails

orecchiette ( little ears): tiny ridged, pinched pasta discs. The little discs are pressed in the making by a thumb to create a little hollow, a perfect shape to gather in the sauce. A classic pasta of Apulia.

ditallini: "little toes", very short tube-shaped macaroni. Used often in soups.

strozzapreti: (priest stranglers)  a tightly rolled length of pasta, about two inches, with a twisted shape

gemelli: (twins) looks similar to strozzapreti, but are generally doubled strands, short and thick pasta, that are twisted together to look like spirals

cavatelli: narrow small strips of pasta, with a slit in the middle, giving it a shell-type shape

gnocchetti rigati: This is dried pasta, created to look like a small gnocchi, with the ridges

gramigna: (grass) narrow, curly small length of pasta with a hole in the middle.

maltagliati: these are really left over scraps of pasta (poorly cut) that can be used in soups, etc.

rotini: little spirals or twists of pasta

pinci: handmade pasta (without eggs), made by rolling out a little piece of pasta until it becomes a long, thin string, of about 8 inches

sedanini: little celery stalks one-inch-long maccheroni with a slight bend that resembles celery stalks

pastina: tiny specs of pasta, like rice, used in soups

corzetti: thin, hand-stamped (generally) wafers, or discs, found mostly in Genoa, and named after old Genovese stamped money pieces. Made from white, whole wheat or chestnut flour.

gigli, campanelle, riccioli: flower-shaped small tubes of pasta. Gigli means lilies. A pasta good with hearty, chunky dishes.

ziti: a fatter form of penne, a thick, long, hollow pasta shape. Because of their length they are usually cut into four-inch long pieces. Found in Sicily and southern Italy.

zucchette: (little hats) a Pugliese or Sicilian pasta that is rounded, and hollow inside, like a cup or a hat. Ribbed. About 3/4 inch high. Very unusual shape: captures tomato sauce well.

anellini: little circles of dried pasta, about 1/2 inch in diameter. Used similar to ditalini.

radiatori: you guessed it -- radiators! Semolina pasta about 7/8 inch long in the shape of coils, or radiators.

casarecci: shaped like a very narrow, twisted and rolled tube. About 1 1/2 inches long. Turned on end it looks like a tiny "s". Best with meat sauce.





  fresh pasta, ribbons

tagliatelle: (from the verb "to cut"): the standard flat ribbon fresh egg pasta, the basic food of Bologna. This pasta should be 1/4 inch wide.

fettuccine: really the same as tagliatelle, most often associated with Rome. The name is better known in the U.S. probably because of the Roman association. Some purists say the fettuccine should actually be slightly narrower than tagliatelle, say one-fifth inch wide. Whatever.

tagliolini:  a narrower version of tagliatelle. How about 1/10 to 1/12 inch wide.

tajarin: Piedmont dialect for tagliolini.

trenette: this is the Ligurian version of tagliatelle. Generally thinner. The classic pasta for pesto. Trenette has been commercialized sometimes into a pure macaroni (non-egg) pasta. The authentic trenette is fresh.

tonnarelli: a squared off version of thin tagliatelle, generally Roman. Similar to maccheroni alla chitarra.

pappardelle: the widest tagliatelle. Can be anywhere from1/2 inch to an inch, but generally about 3/4 inch in width and about six inches long. Has to be hand cut.

garganelli: not a ribbon, but generally a fresh egg pasta. It is a one and one-half inch square of pasta, rolled up into a tube, one corner down to the far corner, and rolled over a comb or comb-like machine that creates grooves to hold the sauce better.

scialatielli: a flat, egg pasta, slightly thicker than spaghetti, made usually with durum flour, especially popular in Rome and the south.

strascinati: this is a fresh pasta from the Puglia region made generally with flour and lard and water. It is a small sausage-type shape, commonly called leaves. The leaf structure is imprinted by "dragging" the disc across a rough instrument called a cavarola.


fresh pasta, stuffed

ravioli: a name given to many flat-shaped pastas, almost generic. The basic shape is square, and they can be small: raviolini; or large squares: raviolone. They take a wide variety of stuffings.

agnolotti: Piedmont-style ravioli. Mostly stuffed with meat. Mostly squares but can be half-moon shaped.

cansonei: "little britches", mostly found around Bergamo, generally stuffed with sausage, bread and parmesan.

capellacci: "big hats", generally large, flat ravioli found in Ferrara. Generally stuffed with pumpkin.

pansoti: "pot-bellied", large, egg-rich, thickly stuffed ravioli from Liguria. Stuffed with herbs, egg and cheese.

tortelli: "little cakes", fat, long ravioli, generally filled with ricotta and spinach. Tortelli di zucca are a traditional dish in Lombardy, filled with yellow squash and crushed almond cookies, and served with butter and parmesan.

mezzalune: ravioli not in squares but in a half-moon shape.

tortellini: the classic stuffed pasta from Bologna. Made from circles of pasta, filled, and then folded over and wrapped around the finger. Exquisite.

cappelletti: "little hats", same as tortellini, except made from squares of pasta, filled, folded over and wrapped around the finger. The square shape allows for a piece of the folded-over pasta to stick up and out as if it were a bishop's hat.

tortelloni: just like cappelletti, made from squares of pasta, but larger pieces.

culingiones: an oval, stuffed pasta which is the ravioli style in Sardinia.


lasagne: large, flat egg pasta that is used to create a layered, baked dish, with a variety of stuffings, such as vegetarian or ragu between the pasta layers.

cannelloni: "large tubes", flat sheets of pasta, like lasagna, about four inches long, that are filled with a variety of stuffings, and then rolled up into open-ended cylinders.

maltagliati: "badly cut" flat egg pasta that can be almost any shape. Generally it consists of the left-over edges or pieces of pasta after the sheet is cut into something like ravioli. Used in soups, but also in some creative dishes.



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