Pasta Shapes

Pasta Shapes
Spaghetti is fine for smooth tomato sauces, but a chunkier sauce needs a pasta that can trap and hold it as it travels from plate to mouth. There are many whimsical pasta shapes that do just that, fashioned after such things as shells, corkscrews, wagon wheels, and radiators. Shapes are easier to eat than rods or ribbons, so they're a good choice if you're serving kids or crowds. Many are also sturdy enough to use in pasta salads and baked casseroles.
casarecci
casarecci
These are short lengths of rolled and twisted Italian pasta. They're usually served with meat sauces.
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cavatelli
cavatelli
Cavatelli has two meanings. It usually refers to small pasta shells that resemble tiny hot dog buns and are often served with thick, chunky sauces or in pasta salads. The name is less commonly used for a type of dumpling made with ricotta cheese.
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conchiglie
conchiglie
This Italian pasta resembles conch shells. It's often served with tomato or meat sauces, or in pasta salads. A smaller version for soups is called conchigliette, while larger, stuffable shells are called conchiglioni.
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conchiglioni
conchiglioni
Pasta shaped like conch shells come in various sizes; this is the largest. It's often stuffed and baked.
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creste di galli
creste di galli
This version of Italian pasta is shaped like creste di galli ("cockscomb" in Italian).
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farfalle
farfalle
This Italian pasta resembles bow ties or butterflies. It's often served with chunky sauces or in pasta salads. A smaller version is called farfallini, while a larger version is called farfallone.
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fusilli
fusilli
This is a type of Italian pasta that's shaped like either like screws or springs. This is a good choice for pasta salads and casseroles, or for serving with hearty, thick sauces. A long version of the spring-shaped fusilli is called fusilli col buco.
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fusilli col buco
fusilli col buco
This is a long version of the spring-shaped fusilli
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gemelli
gemelli
The name means "twins" in Italian. These are short rods twisted together in a spiral pattern. They're great with any sauce, or in pasta salads or casseroles.
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gigli
gigli
This Italian pasta consists of flower shapes (gigli is Italian for "lilies"). It's good with heart, chunky sauces.
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gnocchetti
gnocchetti
This Italian pasta is made to look like gnocchi, the popular potato dumplings. To confuse matters, a larger version of gnocchetti is also called gnocchi. Both sizes are good with thick sauces.
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lumache
lumache
Lumache (Italian for "snails") are shells that are often served with chunky sauces. A larger shell, called lumaconi, is usually stuffed and baked.
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lumaconi
lumaconi
This is an outsized version of the Italian pasta shape called lumache, which resembles a snail shells. Lumaconi are usually stuffed and baked.
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malloreddus
malloreddus
This Sardinian pasta is very similar to gnocchetti, except that it's often flavored with saffron.
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maltagliati
maltagliati
Maltagliati means "poorly cut" in Italian, and the name is used for various kinds of pasta scraps.
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margherite
Margherite means "daisies" in Italian, but this pasta shape looks more like shells, with ridges on the outside. A small soup pasta version is called margheritine.
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orecchiette
orecchiette
These "little ears" are pieces of Italian pasta shaped like tiny ears or bowls.
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Pasta Shapes
Pasta Shapes
Spaghetti is fine for smooth tomato sauces, but a chunkier sauce needs a pasta that can trap and hold it as it travels from plate to mouth. There are many whimsical pasta shapes that do just that, fashioned after such things as shells, corkscrews, wagon wheels, and radiators. Shapes are easier to eat than rods or ribbons, so they're a good choice if you're serving kids or crowds. Many are also sturdy enough to use in pasta salads and baked casseroles.
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radiatori
radiatori
A type of Italian pasta, these resemble small radiators. The "grills" do a good job of scooping up chunky sauces.
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rotini
rotini
These pasta shapes look like short springs made from spaghetti. They're good with chunky sauces, or in pasta salads.
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ruote
ruote
These are shaped like wagon wheels, and they're great with chunky sauces or in pasta salads.
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spiralini
spiralini
These are spring-shaped lengths of Italian pasta. They're good with chunky sauces, or in pasta salads. A larger version is called spirali.
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strozzapreti
strozzapreti
The name means "priest strangler" in Italian, and it refers to a pasta shape that resembles a rolled towel.
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torchio
torchio
These pasta shapes resemble torches, the better to scoop up chunky sauces.
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trenne
trenne
This Italian pasta is triangular, and cut into short lengths. It's good with chunky sauces or in casseroles.
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trennette
trennette
This triangular Italian pasta is similar to trenne, only smaller. Don't confuse this with trenette, which is a long ribbon of pasta.
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troffiette
troffiette
A Ligurian specialty, these are small, twisted bits of pasta. They're often served with pesto.
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