There are so many types of pasta! Here’s a list of pasta shapes, from common to unique, and recipes for how to use each one of them.
Ahhh, pasta: arguably one of Italy’s best gifts to the world. Did you know there are about 350 types of pasta? These days more and more unique types of pasta are popping up at mainstream grocery stores. If you love to cook (like we do), you’ll want to experiment with all the noodles. But what are the right ways to prepare them? Which pastas work with chunky sauces, vs are thrown into soups or pasta salads?
Here are 18 of our favorite types of pasta, from everyday to unique. There’s the old favorites like spaghetti and lasagna, but lots of new ideas! There’s orecchiette, a tiny ear shaped pasta, or mafaldine, a long ribbon like pasta with curly edges. Here’s how to make each one of them into delicious recipes.
What is it? Short tubular pasta, cut at an angle. The ridges on the outside help the sauce to stick! Penne is highly versatile and works with just about anything: red sauce, pesto, cheese sauce, and even in pasta salads.
What is it? Pasta made of long thin sheets, used to layer that world-famous dish. You can buy them fresh, dry, or no-boil. No boil requires no cooking before baking. Creative uses: roll them up to make lasagna rolls, or make a free-form lasagna soup.
What is it? A type of short cut pasta; the name comes from the Italian word for “twins”. While it looks like two twin pasta tubes, it's really an s-shaped strand twisted into a spiral. It works with any preparation that penne does: tomato sauces, mac and cheese, and pasta salad. Even works in soup!
What is it? A filled ring-shaped pasta, with meat or vegetarian fillings. You can find tortellini fresh, frozen, or dried at your local grocery. Tortellini are lovely in a cream sauce, or floating in a tangy soup broth.
What is it? Fusilli is corkscrew shaped pasta. It's often confused with rotini, and can be used similarly. Fusilli looks like a small spring, and rotini looks like a twist. Fusilli works anywhere that penne would: with thick sauces, chunky veggies, or in soups or pasta salads.
Type of pasta: Farfalle, aka bow tie pasta or butterfly pasta
What is it? A short pasta shape formed like a butterfly (farfalle is the Italian word for butterfly). Farfalle works in most places that penne would: with vegetables, in creamy or tomato sauces, pasta salads, or even in soups.
What is it? Mafaldine pasta is a ribbon-shaped pasta with wavy edges on both sides, almost like a long and thin lasagna noodle. It's thicker than most of the longer noodle shapes, and works best with chunky veggies or seafood.