Shapely Pasta

25 06 2006


Spaghetti is fine for smooth tomato sauces, but a chunkier sauce needs a pasta that can trap and hold it as it travels from plate to mouth. There are many whimsical pasta shapes that do just that, fashioned after such things as shells, corkscrews, wagon wheels, and radiators. Shapes are easier to eat than rods or ribbons, so they’re a good choice if you’re serving kids or crowds. Many are also sturdy enough to use in pasta salads and baked casseroles.

Pasta tubes or stuffed pasta works well in pasta salads.

Casarecci = cesariccia are short lengths of rolled and twisted Italian pasta. They’re usually served with meat sauces. Substitutes: fusilli, strozzapreti, gigli, farfalle

Cavatelli usually refers to small pasta shells that resemble tiny hot dog buns and are often served with thick, chunky sauces or in pasta salads. It is also a dumpling made with ricotta cheese. Substitutes: orecchiette, gnocchetti, rotini, malloreddus

Conchiglie (pasta shells, pipe rigate, maruzze) resembles conch shells and is often served with tomato or meat sauces, or in pasta salads. A smaller version for soups is conchigliette, while larger, stuffable shells are called conchiglioni. Substitutes: lumache, fusilli, gemelli, farfalle, radiatore, penne, macaroni, rigatoni, ziti, ruote, conchiglie, cavatelli

Conchiglioni (jumbo shells, giant shells) Pasta shaped like conch shells come in various sizes; this is the largest. It is often stuffed and baked. Substitutes: lumaconi, manicotti, cannelloni

Creste di galli (“cockscomb” in Italian). Substitutes: macaroni, gigli, farfalle

Farfalle ( bow-tie pasta, butterfly pasta) is often served with chunky sauces or in pasta salads. A smaller version is called farfallini, while a larger version is called farfallone. Substitutes: conchiglie, radiatori, fusilli, tubular pasta

Fusilli (corkscrew pasta) shaped like either like screws or springs, this is a good choice for pasta salads and casseroles, or for serving with hearty, thick sauces. A long version of the spring-shaped fusilli is called fusilli col buco. Substitutes: rotini, spirali, gemelli, farfalle, radiatore, penne, macaroni, rigatoni, ziti, ruote, conchiglie, cavatelli

Fusilli col buco (fusilli bucati lunghi) is a long version of the spring-shaped fusilli. Substitutes: perciatelli, spaghetti

Gemelli (“twins” in Italian) are short rods twisted together in a spiral pattern. Used in pasta salads or casseroles. Substitutes: fusilli, farfalle, radiatore, penne, macaroni, rigatoni, ziti, ruote, conchiglie, rotini, cavatelli

Gigli (riccioli, campanelle) flower shapes (gigli is Italian for “lilies”) good with hearty chunky sauces. Substitutes: fusilli, rotini, gemelli, farfalle, radiatore, penne, macaroni, rigatoni, ziti, ruote, conchiglie, cavatelli

Gnocchetti is made to look like gnocchi, the popular potato dumplings. To confuse matters, a larger version of gnocchetti is also called gnocchi. Both sizes are good with thick sauces. Substitutes: cavatelli, orecchiette OR malloreddus

Gramigna are small curls of Italian pasta that are good with light sauces. Substitutes: carnneroni. tubetti

Lumaconi = giant snails This is an outsized version of the Italian pasta shape called lumache, which resembles a snail shells. Lumaconi are usually stuffed and baked. Substitutes: conchiglioni, manicotti, cannelloni

Malloreddus (gnocchetti sardi): This Sardinian pasta is very similar to gnocchetti, except that it is often flavored with saffron. Substitutes: gnocchetti, cavatelli

Maltagliati (“poorly cut” in Italian) is used for various kinds of pasta scraps.

Margherite means “daisies” in Italian, but this pasta shape looks more like shells, with ridges on the outside. A small soup pasta version is called margheritine. Substitutes: gigli, conchiglie

Orecchiette These “little ears” are pieces of Italian pasta shaped like tiny ears or bowls. Substitutes: fusilli, orzo, acini di pepe, tubettini, conchiglette, coralli

Quadrefiore Substitutes: penne

Radiatori resemble small radiators. The “grills” do a good job of scooping up chunky sauces. Substitutes: farfalle, conchiglie, ruote, rotini

Ruote (ruotine, wagon wheels, wheels, ruote de carro) are shaped like wagon wheels, and they’re great with chunky sauces or in pasta salads. Substitutes: farfalle, conchiglie, radiatori, penne

Rotini (rotelle, spirals, twists) look like short springs made from spaghetti. They are good with chunky sauces, or in pasta salads. Substitutes: fusilli,ruote, gemelli, torchio, penne

Spiralini are spring-shaped lengths of Italian pasta good with chunky sauces, or in pasta salads. A larger version is called spirali. Substitutes: fusilli, rotini, ruote, gemelli, torchio, penne

Strozzapreti means “priest strangler” in Italian, and it refers to a pasta shape that resembles a rolled towel. Substitutes: gemelli, penne, casareccie, fusilli

Torchio resemble torches, the better to scoop up chunky sauces. Substitutes: gigli, orecchiette, farfalle, conchiglie, radiotori

Trenne is triangular, and cut into short lengths. It’s good with chunky sauces or in casseroles. Substitutes: penne, trennette, ziti

Trennette is similar to trenne, only smaller. Do not confuse this with trenette, which is a long ribbon of pasta. Substitutes: trenne, penne, ziti, mostaccioli

Troffiette A Ligurian specialty, these are small, twisted bits of pasta and served with pesto. Substitutes: strozzapretti
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