Ancient Rome was the birthplace of fresh pasta (pasta fresca), which was made by adding water to semolina-flour. This vital ingredient is made from durum wheat, a thriving crop in Italy’s temperate climate. Unlike the dried pasta found at your local grocery store today, fresh pasta was meant to be eaten immediately. The Arab invasions of Sicily in the 8th Century are thought to be the origins of dried pasta (pasta secca). At the time, Palermo was producing mass quantities of the new product. Some Arabic influence can still be found in select recipes, using ingredients such as raisins and cinnamon.
In the 1300’s, dried pasta became very popular for use on long nautical expeditions because of its shelf-life and nutrition. These voyages contributed to pasta’s worldwide appeal and led to advances in its form and technology. Back in Italy, pasta was slowly migrating north to Naples and reached its destination in the 17th Century. A few historical events boosted pasta to a national icon. It became a kitchen staple during the Risorgimento (Italian Unification) in the mid 1860’s. Italian political and military figure Giuseppe Garibaldi introduced the country to La Scienza in cucina e l’Arte I Mangiar bene, a cookbook written in 1891 by Pellegrino Artusi that featured pasta. Tomato sauce was introduced to Italy in the 19th Century but was met with skepticism. The tomato, being a member of the nightshade family, was considered inedible in many regions; fortunately, those rumors were put to rest shortly thereafter. The last major event to influence pasta’s early history was the Italian Diaspora, a mass migration of Italians from their country in the time between the Unification and World War I. These times of hardship led Italians to take even more pride in refining the art of cooking.
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Types of Pasta
There are two major classifications: pasta fresca (fresh) and pasta secca (dried). From here, there are more than 600 unique types of pasta: sheets, strips, long strands, cylinders, unique shapes, flavors, and many other local varieties. There are more names for pasta than the mind can retain, yet all are made from the same basic ingredients — 100% durum wheat and water with a specific percentage of acidity and humidity under Italian law. Varying from the basics, light flavors and colors can be added to pasta with egg yolk, spinach, tomato paste, chocolate, and even squid ink. The individual shape and texture given to pasta can be somewhat of a code in determining the proper sauce. A simple rule of thumb would be as follows: thick pasta = thick sauce, light pasta = light sauce.
Pasta fresca, the starting point of all pastas, is created with higher humidity, and some types only exist in this category. Variations can often be regional. Northern Italy is known to use all-purpose flour and eggs, while southern Italy uses the standard semolina and water mixture. Other ingredients vary, from potatoes to ricotta.
Special tools are used when making dried pasta. First, the pasta is forced through holes in a die-plate and onto sheets for cutting. The next step is drying. Pasta secca is only considered real pasta if it is made in the proper Italian way, slow-drying it for upwards of fifty hours in a copper mold, and then in the open air. The rest of the world usually dries pasta in steel molds at extremely high temperatures for short periods of time, resulting in an inferior product.
Shapes of Pasta
The following table maps out the various shapes and forms of pasta:
|Campanelle||Flattened bell-shaped pasta with a frilly edge on one end||Little bells|
|Capunti||Short convex ovals resembling an open empty pea pod|
|Casarecce||Short lengths rolled into an S shape||From casereccio meaning homemade|
|Cavatelli||Short, solid lengths||From the verb cavare meaning to hollow|
|Cencioni||Petal shaped, slightly curved with rough convex side||Little rags|
|Conchiglioni||Large, stuffable seashell-shaped||Large shells|
|Corzetti||Flat figure-eight stamped|
|Creste di Galli||Short, curved and ruffled||Cocks combs|
|Croxetti||Flat coin-shaped discs stamped with coats of arms||Little crosses|
|Fantolioni||Panda-shaped bow-ties commonly served with boiled olives||Pre-packaged pandas|
|Farfalle||Bow tie or butterfly shaped||Butterflies|
|Farfallone||Larger bowties||Large butterfly|
|Fiorentine||Grooved cut tubes||Florentine|
|Fiori||Shaped like a flower||Little flowers|
|Foglie dulivo||Shaped like an olive leaf||Olive leaf|
|Fusilli||Three-edged spiral, usually in mixed colors. Many vendors and brands sold as fusilli are two-edged||From fusile, archaic/dialect form of fucile, meaning rifle. As the inside barrel of a gun is “rifled” using a similar screw-shaped device|
|Fusilli Bucati||A spring-shaped variety of the above||Holed rifles|
|Gemelli||A single S-shaped strand of pasta twisted in a loose spiral||Twins|
|Gigli||Cone or flower shaped||Lilies|
|Gnocchi||Round in shape and often made with flour plus potatoes||From the Italian gnocco, meaning “a knot in wood”|
|Gramigna||Short, curled lengths of pasta||Scutch-grass; more generically, “infesting weed”|
|Lanterne||Curved ridges||Lantern holders|
|Lumache||Snail-shaped||From lumaca, meaning snail|
|Lumaconi||Jumbo lumache||Large snails|
|Maltagliati||Flat roughly cut triangles||Badly cut|
|Mandala||Designed by Philippe Starck in 1987 for French pasta-maker Panzani||Design based on compensating for overcooking|
|Marille||Designed by Giorgetto Guigiaro in 1983 – like a rolling ocean wave in cross-section with internal rugosities, but unsuccessful and no longer produced||From mare, meaning sea|
|Orecchiette||Bowl or ear shaped pasta||Little ears|
|Pipe||Larger version of macaroni||Smoking pipes|
|Quadrefiore||Square with rippled edges||Flower quadrants|
|Radiatore||Shaped like radiators||Radiator|
|Ricciolini||Short wide pasta with a 90-degree twist||From riccio, curly|
|Ricciutelle||Short spiraled pasta||From riccio, curly|
|Rotelle||Wagon wheel-shaped pasta||Little wheels (from ruota-wheel)|
|Rotini||2-edged spiral, tightly wound. Some vendors and brands are 3-edged and sold as rotini|
|Spirali||A tube which spirals round||Spirals|
|Spiralini||More tightly-coiled fusilli||Little spirals|
|Strangolapreti||Rolled across their width||Priest-chokers or priest-stranglers|
|Trofie||Thin twisted pasta|
|Bucatini||Hollow spaghetti||Little holes|
|Calamarata||Wide ring shaped pasta||Squid (also known as “calamari”)|
|Cannelloni||Large stuffable tubes||Big pipes or reeds|
|Cavatappi||Corkscrew-shaped macaroni||Corkscrews; also known as Cellentani and Spirali|
|Chifferi||Short and wide macaroni|
|Ditalini||Short tubes, like elbows but shorter and without a bend||Small fingers|
|Fideua||Short and thin tubes|
|Gomito Maccheroni||Bent tubes||Elbow macaroni|
|Elicoidali||Slightly ribbed tube pasta; the ribs are corked as opposed to those on rigatoni||Helicoidal|
|Fagioloni||Short narrow tube||Little beans|
|Garganelli||Square egg noodle rolled into a tube|
|Maccheroni||As long as a little finger, usually striped|
|Maccheroncelli||Hollow pencil-shaped pasta|
|Maltagliati||Short wide pasta with diagonally cut ends||Roughly cut|
|Manicotti||Large ridged tubes that are stuffed||Sleeves, from the Italian word manica|
|Mezzani Pasta||Short curved tube||From Mezzo meaning half-size|
|Mezze Penne||Short version of penne||Half-pens|
|Mezze Bombardoni||Short, wide tubes||Half bombards|
|Mostaccioli||Sometimes mistakenly used as another name for Penne, Mostaccioli differ in that they do not have ridges. Mostaccioli are also called Penne Lisce or “smooth penne”||Mustaches|
|Pasta al Ceppo||Shaped like a cinnamon stick|
|Penne||Medium length tubes with ridges, cut diagonally at both ends||Literally “pens” because the tip is similar to that of a quill, or fountain pen|
|Penne Rigate||Penne with ridged sides|
|Penne Lisce||Penne with smooth sides|
|Penne Zita||Wider version of penne|
|Pennette||Short thin version of penne|
|Pennoni||Wider version of penne|
|Perciatelli||Thicker bucatini||From the verb Perciare meaning Hollow inside|
|Rigatoncini||Smaller version of rigatoni|
|Rigatoni||Large and slightly curved tube||From riga, meaning line: rigatoni is pasta with lines (large). Rigato or rigate, when added to another pasta name means lined, or, with ridges added, as in “spaghetti rigati”|
|Sagne Incannulate||Long tube formed of twisted ribbon|
|Trenne||Penne shaped as a triangle|
|Trennette||Smaller version of trenne|
|Tortiglioni||Narrower rigatoni||From the verb Torcere meaning to twist. Twisted, wringed|
|Ziti||Long, narrow hose-like tubes|
|Zitoni||Wider version of Ziti|
|Spaghettoni||Thick spaghetti||Thick little twine|
|Spaghetti||Most common round-rod pasta||Spago means twine, spaghetto means little twine, spaghetti is plural|
|Spaghettini||Thin spaghetti||Thin little twine|
|Fedelini||Between spaghetti and vermicelli in size||Little faithful ones|
|Vermicelloni||Thick vermicelli||Thick little worms|
|Vermicelli||Thicker than capellini, thinner than fedelini||Little worms|
|Capellini||Thinner than vermicelli, thicker than angel hair||Fine hair|
|Capellini dangelo||Thinnest round-rod pasta||Angel hair|
In order of thickest to thinnest.
Various Strand Pasta
|Barbina||Thin strands often coiled into nests||Little beards|
|Spaghetti alla Chitarra||Similar to spaghetti, except square rather than round, and made of egg in addition to flour||Named after the device used to cut the pasta, which has a wooden frame strung with metal wires. Sheets of pasta are pressed down onto the device, and then the wires are “strummed” so that the slivers of pasta fall through|
|Ciriole||Thicker version of chitarra|
|Fusilli Lunghi||Very long coiled rods (like a thin telephone cord)||Long rifles|
|Pici||Very thick, long, hand rolled|
|Bavette||Narrower version of tagliatelle||Little thread|
|Bavettine||Narrower version of bavette|
|Fettuce||Wider version of fettuccine||Ribbons|
|Fettuccine||Ribbon of pasta approximately 6.5 millimeters wide||Little ribbons|
|Fettucelle||Narrower version of fettuccine|
|Lasagne||Very wide noodles that often have fluted edges||Cooking pot|
|Lasagnette||Narrower version of lasagne|
|Lasagnotte||Longer version of lasagna|
|Linguettine||Narrower version of linguine|
|Linguine||Flattened spaghetti||Little tongues|
|Mafalde||Short rectangular ribbons|
|Mafaldine||Long ribbons with ruffled sides|
|Pappardelle||Thick flat ribbon|
|Pillus||Very thin ribbons|
|Pizzoccheri||Ribbon pasta made from buckwheat|
|Reginette||Wide ribbon with rippled edges||Little queens|
|Sagnarelli||Rectangular ribbons with fluted edges|
|Sciatelli of Sciatelli||Home-made long spaghetti with a twisted long spiral|
|Stringozzi||Similar to shoelaces||From stringhe, meaning shoestrings|
|Tagliatelle||Ribbon fairly thinner than fettucine||From “tagliare” – to cut|
|Taglierini||Thinner version of Tagliatelle|
|Trenette||Thin ribbon ridged on one side|
|Tripoline||Thick ribbon ridged on one side|
|Acini di Pepe||Bead-like pasta||Peppercorns|
|Anelli||Small rings of pasta||Rings|
|Anellini||Smaller version of Anelli||Little rings|
|Conchigliette||Small shell shaped pasta||Little shells|
|Corallini||Small short tubes of pasta||Little corals|
|Ditali||Small short tubes||Thimbles|
|Ditalini||Smaller version of Ditali||Little thimbles|
|Farfalline||Small bow tie shaped pasta||Either bowties or little butterflies|
|Fideos||Short thin pasta|
|Filini||Smaller version of Fideos||Thin threads; (from filo, meaning thread)|
|Fregula||Bead-like pasta from Sardinia|
|Funghini||Small mushroom shaped pasta||Little mushrooms|
|Ochi di Pernice||Very small rings of pasta||Partridges eyes|
|Orzo||Rice shaped pasta, also Risoni||Barley|
|Pastina||Small spheres about the same size or smaller than Acini di Pepe||Little pasta|
|Pearl Pasta||Spheres slightly larger than Acini di Pepe|
|Quadrettini||Small flat squares of pasta||Little squares|
|Risi||Smaller version of Orzo||Little rice|
|Seme di Melone||Small seed shaped pasta||Melon seeds|
|Stelle||Small star-shaped pasta||Stars|
|Stelline||Smaller version of Stelle||Little stars|
|Stortini||Smaller version of elbow macaroni||Little crooked ones|
|Trachana||Granular, irregular shaped pasta of Greek origin|
|Agnolotti||Semi-circular pockets; can be stuffed with ricotta or mix of cheese and meats or pureed vegetables||Lambs ears|
|Cannelloni||Oven cooked, stuffed rolls of pasta||Big tubes|
|Casoncelli||A semi-circular stuffed pasta, specifically associated with the style alla bergamasca, which is stuffed with a mixture of bread crumbs, egg, cheese, ground beef, salami, raisins, Amaretti biscuits, pear, and garlic|
|Fagottini||A ‘purse’ or bundle of pasta, made from a round of dough gathered into a ball-shaped bundle, often stuffed with ricotta and fresh pear||Little purses|
|Mezzelune||Semi-circular pockets; about 2.5 in. diameter||Half-moons|
|Occhi di Lupo||A large, penne shaped pasta that is stuffed||Eyes of the Wolf|
|Panzerotti||Pasta made from eggs cheese and flour|
|Pelmeni||Meat-filled dumplings, usually served in broth|
|Pierogi||Dumplings filled with meat, vegetables, cheese or fruit|
|Ravioli||Square. About 3x3cm. Stuffed with cheese, ground meat, pureed vegetables, or mixtures thereof||Possibly from rapa, “turnip”|
|Tortellini||Ring-shaped. Stuffed with a mixture of meat and cheese|
|Tortelloni||Larger version of Tortellini|
50 thoughts on “Pasta”
good knwlde about of pasta
Can you provide an updated list with photos for visual learners.
Yes. Will try ASAP.
A list this detailed with photos included would be a true world treasure for foodies everywhere.
i’ll work on it! you’re right!
Add pictures (that are labeld)of diffent types of pasta 🙂
i have been trying to find linguine in out stores here , but cant , i love the linguine with pesto and tomato flavor .. where do i find it thank you
what city are you in? you can always gets the basics at amazon, i believe. thanks ed
This will help with my research
thank you its too much knowledge for me.
hey i wanna know pastas atleast 20 only with pictures which is commonly used around the world for hospitality …………send if it can be done …………on my mailing address
Hi, I live in south west London and would like to know where you can actually buy some of these less well known pasta shapes. I use one calles ditalini rigati to make soups but its rsrely available.
Had fegottini, ” little purse”, in Monterossa, Cinque Terre, at XX Verdi, and was stuffed with puréed pear and cheese. Was Devine!
thats so cool
It’s amazing to know there are so many different types of pasta. Most people only know 5-6 varieties
I would like to know where I can purchase the dumplings that Muller’s had, but I can no longer find them in the grocery store, will you let me know if you still have them and where I can purchase them.
Add the pictures with the names please so one understand easily
interesting facts, even for children.
I never knew that there were more than 600 types of pasta.
wow real fact,pasta good for health.
What about capeletti?
yes. little hats, stuffed with cheese or meat. i should add them.
I think if the accompanied image would be great, thanks for info. I like 🙂
1) The word gnocco means dumpling.
2) The word gnocchi is from the Italian word nocca or knuckle.
Well, half correct!
gnocco is a dumpling, gnocchi is the plural.
nocca is knuckle, nocche is the plural!
Ah Ha!…You have just settled a decades old argument between my husband and I! I grew up with chicken and dumplings, dumplings being bread cooked floating on top of the chicken soup! My husbands grandmother made chicken soup with what he insisted was dumplings! What he was calling dumplings are what I have always said is not because it is more like paste made with flour egg and milk, what I call(not to his face)pinch noodles because she just pinched off bits into the chicken soup. These pinch noodles are much like misshapen gnocchi!…so all these decade we were both right she just didn’t take the time to shape the “dumplings”….lol
Happy to help!
Add the pic to it
where did you refer the kind of pasta
This is such a great source of information. Thanks for posting 🙂
It’s such a good page for a chef like me to read.Continue to provide such information.
I am making a dish that combines long grain rice and vermicelli but I am having trouble finding vermicelli. What pasta can I substitute? The pasta is broken in pieces and browned with the rice in butter before adding chicken broth. Thanks for your help.
Hi. Use Capellini (or angel hair) or if you can’t find them, use thin spaghetti! buon appetito!
Where can I find/buy a pasta called Magarita it is a long flat pasta like linguine except it is twisted from end to end —it takes a large box due to the twist DeCecco used to sell it but Can no longer fied a place to obtain it firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi have you tried eataly in nyc? or online? or Buonitalia in the NY Chelsea market? they both carry a wide variety.
I thought there had been a book with all the pasta shapes listed. Do you know of one such? Gigi
Mr.garrubbo has given knowledge for all person thanks for your pasta description
Mr.garrubbo has given knowledge for all person thanks for your pasta description
Thank you for publishing. You’ve made shopping tonight easier than you know. I couldn’t remeber the tube type pasta names and was shopping online at my favorite store. Unfortunately, as convenient as it is to have this delivery service, you have to know the exact name of what you are looking for. Otherwise you can’t just browse like most shoppers do. The word cannelloni had completely slipped my mind and off into the depths somewhere tonight, but a google search brought up your helpful and interesting article complete with tables and definitions. Thank you for making my life easier.
you are welcome!! grazie!
Thank you so much, it really explains alot, we love to eat so we will be trying out the ones we can find here in Minnesota. And I agree maybe pictures will work also. Thanks for the extra knowledge!!
your welcome! i will work on the fotos!!
Thanks for your pasta name
Ok good to discover so much pasta.
AS REQUESTED MULPLIPE TIMES PROVIDE PHOTOS TOMATCH THE TYPES!
Much mote work no doubt, yet if you care to provide best reality, show photos!
You must know that to be. TRUE!
Any idea what a solid cubical shaped pasta would be called? Like pici cut into small pieces? Fabio Viviani makes it in the first half of his Egg-less pasta video (episode 10), but never gives it a name… Is it ciciones?
hi. are they hollow? could be Cubetti (small cubes). sometimes gnocchi can be cut very small into cube shapes too.