No one really knows how many pasta variations there are. Even the names of the same shaped pasta will vary from one region of Italy to another. This is a list of some of the most commonly available pasta shapes and suggestions for pairing various types of pasta with sauces.
Which Sauce Goes Best with Which Pasta?
The combination of pasta and a tasty sauce is almost a science in itself. But there are a few simple rules that people generally follow.
In general, long dried pasta strands like spaghetti are matched with thin sauces and thicker pasta tubes and chunky shells are paired with heavier meat
sauces or those with vegetable pieces.
Filled pasta like ravioli and tortellini have so much flavor of their own that they only need to be served with a simple butter sand sage sauce or a very light
tomato sauce. In the northern regions of Italy, filled pasta is often accompanied by a cream sauce. Thin fresh pasta should not be overwhelmed by a
powerful sauce either. A few truffle shavings, a little butter, or a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese is sufficient. Heavier fresh pasta, such as tagliatelle,
are particularly good when served with a strong sauce of mushrooms, cheese, cream, ham, or even fish.
With dried pasta, the choice of possible combinations is wider. Because dried pasta does not have a very strong taste, it is more dependent on the
accompanying sauce. Here the rule of thumb is the bigger the space inside the pasta the more sauce it can absorb.
See our Sauce Recipes for more pasta and sauce combinations.
AGNOLOTTI: 'Priest's caps": crescent-shaped, meat-filled ravioli
ANELLINI: The smallest pasta rings
BAVETTINE: Narrow linguine
BUCATINI: Short, straight macaroni with a hole in the center
CANNELLONI: Large, round tubes for stuffing
CAPELLI D'ANGELO: "Angel's hair," the finest of all pasta
CAPPELLETTI: Stuffed "hats"
CAPELLI DI PAGLIACCIO: "Clowns' hats"
CAPELVENERE: Fine noodles
CAVATELLI: Short, crinkle-shaped edged shells
CONCHIGLIE: "Conch shells"
CORALLI: Small tubes for soup
CRESTE DI GALLE: "Cocks-combs"
DITALI: "Thimbles", short macaroni
FARFALLE: "Butterflies" or bows
FARFALLONI: "Big butterflies" or bows
FEDELINI: "Little faithful ones", very fine rods of spaghetti
FETTUCCE: "Ribbons", widest of the fettuccine family
FETTUCCINE: "Narrow ribbons", of egg noodles
FUSILLI: "Little springs", spindles or spirals
LANCETTE: "Little spears"
LASAGNE: Extra broad noodles, about 2 inches wide, smooth or ripple-edged
LINGUE DI PASSERI: "Sparrows' tongues"
LINGUINE: "Little tongues", thick, narrow ribbons
LUMACHE: "Snails", shell-shaped
MACCHERONI: Macaroni of all types: hollow or pierced
MACCHERONI ALLA CHITARRA: Noodles cut with the steel wires of a special guitarlike tool
MAFALDA: Broad noodles, rippled on both sides, wider than fettuccine
MAGLIETTE: "Links", slightly curved, short lengths of hollow pasta
MALTAGLIATI: Irregularly cut shapes
MANICOTTI: "Muffs", giant tubes for stuffing
MARGHERITA: "Daisies", narrow noodles, rippled on one side
MEZZANI: Short, cut, curved macaroni
MOSTACCIOLI: "Little moustaches"
OCCHI DI LUPO: "Wolf"s eyes", large tubes
OCCHI DI PASSERI: "Sparrows' eyes", tiny circles
ORECCHIETTE: "Little ears"
ORZO: Rice-shaped or barley-shaped pasta
PAPPARDELLE: Broad noodles, traditionally served with game sauces
PASTA FRESCA: Fresh egg pasta
PASTA VERDE: Green pasta, usually incorporating spinach in the dough
PASTINA: "Tiny dough", minute pasta shapes used in soup
PENNE: "Pens" or quills, tubes cut diagonally at both ends
PERCIATELLI: Long thin hollow macaroni, looks like thick spaghetti, with a hole in the center
PIZZOCCHERI: Thick, dark buckwheat noodles
QUADRETTINI: Small flat squares
RAVIOLI: Pasta squares filled with meat, cheese, and/or vegetables
RICCIOLINI: Little curls"
RIGATONI: Large grooved macaroni
ROTELLI: "Small wheels"
ROTINI: Spirals or twists
ROUTE: Spiked wheels with hubs
SPAGHETTI: Variety of long thin rods, including capellini (very thin)
TAGLIATELLE: Family of egg noodles similar to fettuccine
TORTELLINI: Small, stuffed pasta similar to cappelletti
TRENTETTE: A narrower, thicker version of tagliatelle
TUBETTI: "Small tubes", hollow
VERMICELLI: Very fine spaghetti
ZITI: "Bridegrooms", slightly curved large tubes
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