Pasta shapes: A one-stop guide to the Italian dish

Explore the world of this Italian culinary invention beyond penne and spaghetti.

There are so many different pasta shapes available that it can get very confusing when looking at the menu at an Italian restaurant.

Below we give you a list of basic pasta shapes, so you don’t have to Google their names every single time.

  1. Spaghetti

A popular shape, they are long thin pasta strands served with thin sauces. However, they go with every pasta sauce ever made.

  1. Penne

Penne, a hollow tube-shaped pasta, are cut at an angle to resemble quills. Due to their shape, they can hold more sauce in their tubes, ensuring the right amount with each piece.

  1. Macaroni

Macaroni is tiny tube pasta found is minestrone or sauces used in bake dishes. Even though it is small, this shape gained its popularity because of mac ‘n’ cheese.

  1. Fettuccine

A ribbon-shaped long and flat pasta; fettuccine is mixed in thick creamy sauces for delicate recipes. Fettuccine resembles the shapes of tagliatelle and pappardelle pasta, but it is narrower than the other two.

  1. Fusilli and Spirali

Both of these kinds of pasta are shaped like corkscrews to trap and hold the pasta sauce in their threads. The only difference between the two is that fusilli is a little tighter compared to spirali.

  1. Linguine

Meaning ‘little tongue’ in Italian, linguine resembles spaghetti but is flat in the middle for a luxurious feel on the plate and narrower than fettuccine. It is best served with pesto or tomato sauce.

  1. Ravioli

Ravioli is a flat square-shaped pasta and is traditionally filled with vegetables, fruits or cheese. The sauce depends on the stuffing inside the ravioli as they are designed to complement each other.

  1. Cannelloni

Cannelloni is cylindrical wide tube pasta that is generally filled with ricotta and spinach stuffing and then baked. However, people also experiment with different fillings.

  1. Lasagne

A world-favourite, lasagne is flat-sheeted pasta that is layered up with different ingredients and baked. While it has become common to used dried pasta sheets, the taste of the freshly made sheets is completely different.

  1. Conchiglie

Conchiglie is shaped like shells to hold the heavier vegetable-based sauces. Since the shape allows packing of the sauce, it can also be used for pasta bake dishes.

There you have it – a guide to basic pasta shapes.

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