Pasta Shapes

There are scores of different shapes and sizes of Italian pastas. Here is a guide to some of the more familiar names seen in the United States:

Alphabets - This favorite kids’ shape is usually used in soups for a fun meal anytime.

Elbow Macaroni [mack-a-ROW-nee] (“Dumpling”) - A highly versatile shape that can be topped with any sauce, baked, or put in soups, salads and stir-fry dishes.

Rotini [row-TEE-nee] (“Spirals” or “Twists”) - Rotini’s twisted shape holds bits of meat, vegetables and cheese, so it works well with any sauce, or you can use it to create fun salads, baked casseroles, or stir-fry meals.

Angel Hair, Capellini [CAP-a-lee-nee] “Fine Hairs”) - Thin, delicate strands are best if used with thinner, delicate sauces. Other uses: break in half and put in soup; use in salads or stir-fry meals.

Manicotti [man-a-COT-tee] (“Small Muffs”) - Stuff Manicotti with a mixture of meat, cheese and vegetables, top with your favorite sauce, and bake. Or stuff and freeze for a later time.

Jumbo Shells, Conchiglie [Kon-KEEL-yeh]- Best when stuffed with your favorite mixtures of cheese, meat and vegetables. For fusion cuisine, stuff with meat flavored with taco seasoning and top with salsa.

Bow Ties, Farfalle [far-fah-LAY] (“Butterflies”) - Bow Ties brighten any meal with their interesting shape. Thick enough for any sauce, or make into a salad or soup.

Medium Egg Noodles (From “Nudel,” German meaning paste with egg) - This size of Egg Noodle can be baked, tossed in soups or salads, or topped with cream, tomato, cheese or meat sauces for a delicious meal.

Medium Shells, Conchiglie [Kon-KEEL-yeh] (“Shells”) - Shells make a great addition to soups or as the base of a wonderful salad. Try remaking your favorite Macaroni and Cheese using Shells, for a fun twist on a time-honored tradition.

Ditalini [dit-a-LEE-nee] (“Little Thimbles”) - This versatile shape can be used as the base of any dish. Bake it, stir it into soups, or create great salads and stir-fry dishes.

Wide Egg Noodles (From “Nudel,” German meaning paste with egg) - Go beyond the traditional Stroganoff and use, Wide Egg Noodles to create soups, salads and casseroles. Or, top with any sauce and serve hot.

Spaghetti [spa-GET-tee] (“A Length of Cord”) - America’s favorite shape, Spaghetti is the perfect choice for nearly any sauce, or it can be used to make casseroles or stir-fry dishes. Go beyond tomato sauce and see what your favorite becomes.

Fettuccini [fet-a-CHEE-nee] (“Small Ribbons”) - Perfect for heavier sauces, like cheese, meat and tomato sauces. For variety, try breaking in half and putting in soups, or use for a salad.

Orzo (“Barley”) - This small, grain shaped pasta can be topped with any sauce, added to soups, or baked as a casserole. Perfect as a side dish as well as a main course.

Vermicelli [ver-ma-CHEL-ee] (“Little Worms”) - Slightly thinner than Spaghetti, Vermicelli is good topped with any sauce, or as a salad or stir-fry ingredient.

Fusilli [foo-SILL-ee] (“Twisted Spaghetti”) - This long, spiraled shape can be topped with any sauce, broken in half and added to soups, or turned into a beautiful salad. Fusilli also bakes well in casseroles.

Penne, Mostaccioli [mos-ta-CHOL-ee] (“Quills” and “Small Mustaches,” respectively) - This tubular pasta goes well with sauce, used in salads, baked in casseroles, or made into stir fry dishes.

Wagon Wheels, Ruote [roo-O-tay] (“Wheels”) - Wagon Wheels make interesting salads, casseroles and stir-fry dishes. Add to soups, or simply top with sauce and enjoy.

Lasagne [la-ZAHN-ya] (From “lasanum,” Latin for pot) - Create new Lasagne casseroles by using chopped vegetables, cheeses and any kind of sauce. You can also assemble your casserole and freeze it for later.

Radiatore [rad-ee-a-TOR-ay] (“Radiators”) - This ruffled, ridged shape adds elegant interest to any sauce. It also works well baked in casseroles, or used in salads and soups.

Ziti [zee-tee] (“Bridegrooms”) - A medium-sized, tubular pasta shape, Ziti is perfect for chunky sauces and meat dishes. It also makes wonderful salads, baked dishes and stir-fry meals.

Linguini [lin-GWI-nee] (“Little Tongues”) - A great shape for all sauces. Also a good choice for salads and stir-fry dishes.

Rigatoni [rig-a-TONE-ee] (“Large Grooved”) - Rigatoni's ridges and holes are perfect with any sauce, from cream or cheese to the chunkiest meat sauces.