A Visual Guide to Different Types of Pasta
Pasta comes in all shapes and sizes. You have thick pasta, thin pasta; pasta that's long, pasta that's round and even pasta that looks like a bow. But no matter what type of pasta you're having, one thing is guaranteed: They are all delicious.
If you love pasta so much that you constantly daydream about an escape to Italy just to stuff your face, this handy visual guide will help you learn about different pasta types and how to cook each one.
No, we can't include every type of pasta, since there are approximately 350, but we can start with 10 of the best.
The tried-and-true pasta that every single person loves. You simply can't go wrong with this thin and long noodle type that goes well with basically everything.
Spaghetti bolognese is a classic dish, but you can serve this pasta with basically any sauce and any type of meat or vegetable. If you're feeling minimalistic, a simple dish with butter, olive oil or soy sauce still hits the spot.
The untrained eye often confuses fettuccine with spaghetti. Both are long types of pasta that are commonly used in homes around the world. But fettuccine is thicker than spaghetti. And in Italy, that makes all of the difference.
Serve this pasta with creamy sauces (fettuccine Alfredo, anyone?). It goes well with any kind of meat and vegetable, but avoid oversimplicity — olive oil or butter are simply not thick enough to make a good fettuccine meal.
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Lasagna is mainly known for its eponymous dish that is, let's be honest, one of the greatest foods ever invented.
Consisting of thin square sheets, they are laid on a baking dish and layered with ragu, then topped with cheese. You really can't improve on lasagna, but creative people have come up with ways to use the pasta for dishes like lasagna soup, stuffed roll-ups and even nachos. We love the creativity, but we'll stick to the classic dish.
Shaped like a thick tube, penne is a popular alternative for whenever people want something different than spaghetti's long strands. Serve this with a dish that has sauce so good you don't want to miss even a little bit, as with penne alla vodka. You'll want it to be thick so it goes into the tubes and fills every bite with flavor.
Chunky veggies or meats are highly recommended.
This spiralled pasta is also great for sauces, as the twists hold on to the flavor and trap ingredients. Fusilli is very similar to rotini, though the shape is a bit different.
Besides a traditional pasta with sauce, fusilli is great for cold pasta salads or baked casseroles.
Macaroni has permeated American culture to the point of being one-half of a classic dish. And while you won't find it in Italy, mac n' cheese is based on Italian dishes that use heavy cheeses paired with pastas — macaroni included, of course.
As you could guess, you'll want to pair this pasta with creamy, thick sauces and cheeses. Another great dish idea with this pasta type is a macaroni salad.
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Ravioli is great because of the variety it provides. They're usually stuffed with various fillings, ranging from cheese to vegetables to beef. How you want to eat them depends entirely on your mood.
Serve them in a thin soup, cover them in a thick sauce, or top them with a light sauce to enjoy the fillings. You'll have a hard time making this delicious pasta type taste bad.
Another tube-like pasta, ziti isn't as common as penne. It is thicker and rounder, and the cut of its edges are straight, as opposed to the diagonal cuts of penne. Because of this, it's not usually used in regular pasta-and-sauce dishes, though you can certainly have it this way if you want.
Ziti is preferred baked and topped with cheese and sauce.
You've definitely had farfalle, even if you didn't know the name. In the English-speaking world, people often call it bow-tie pasta because of its interesting shape. (Though we much prefer the Italian name, which means "butterfly.")
Farfalle is great for many dishes. Have it with a rich sauce, top it with chicken or fish, or have it in a cold salad. You'll love it all the same.
Meaning "shells," conchiglie's shape makes it the perfect pasta for cheese-heavy dishes. Use smaller shells for soups (we recommend it with tomato soup) and bigger ones for meaty sauces or baked dishes.
This pasta is very similar to orecchiette, which means "little ear," and both are good for similar types of dishes.