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Pasta Shapes


Synonyms:  shaped pasta

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.

Substitutes:  pasta tubes OR stuffed pasta (These work well in pasta salads.)


casarecci = cesariccia  Notes:  These are short lengths of rolled and twisted Italian pasta.   They're usually served with meat sauces.  Substitutes:  fusilli OR strozzapreti OR gigli OR farfalle

cavatelli   Pronunciation:  cah-vah-TELL-lee  Notes:   Cavatelli has two meanings.  It usually refers to small pasta shells that resemble tiny hot dog buns and are often served with thick, chunky sauces or in pasta salads.   The name is less commonly used for a type of dumpling made with ricotta cheese.  Substitutes:   orecchiette OR gnocchetti OR rotini OR malloreddus 


conchiglie = pasta shells = pipe rigate = maruzze   Pronunciation:  con-KEEL-yay  Notes:    This Italian pasta resembles conch shells.  It's often served with tomato or meat sauces, or in pasta salads.  A smaller version for soups is called conchigliette, while larger, stuffable shells are called conchiglioni.  Substitutes:   lumache OR fusilli OR gemelli OR farfalle OR radiatore OR penne OR macaroni OR rigatoni OR ziti OR ruote OR conchiglie OR cavatelli

conchiglioni = jumbo shells = giant shells   Notes:    Pasta shaped like conch shells come in various sizes; this is the largest.  It's often stuffed and baked.   Substitutes:   lumaconi OR manicotti OR cannelloni

creste di galli   Pronunciation:  CRAY-stay dee GAH-lee    Notes:   This version of Italian pasta is shaped like creste di galli ("cockscomb" in Italian).  Substitutes:   macaroni OR gigli OR farfalle

farfalle = bow ties = bow-tie pasta = bows =  butterfly pasta    Pronunciation:   far-FALL-lay   Notes:    This Italian pasta resembles bow ties or butterflies.   It's often served with chunky sauces or in pasta salads.  A smaller version is called farfallini, while a larger version is called farfallone.   Substitutes:   conchiglie OR radiatori OR fusilli OR tubular pasta

fusilli = corkscrew pasta = pasta twists  Pronunciation:  foo-ZEE-lee  Notes:   This is a type of Italian pasta that's 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 OR spirali OR gemelli OR farfalle OR radiatore OR penne OR macaroni OR rigatoni OR ziti OR ruote OR conchiglie OR cavatelli


fusilli col buco = fusilli bucati lunghi  Notes:  This is a long version of the spring-shaped fusilli.  Substitutes:  perciatelli OR spaghetti

gemelli   Pronunciation:   jay-MEL-lee  Notes:    The name means "twins" in Italian.  These are short rods twisted together in a spiral pattern.  They're great with any sauce, or in pasta salads or casseroles. Substitutes: fusilli OR farfalle OR radiatore OR penne OR macaroni OR rigatoni OR ziti OR ruote OR conchiglie OR rotini OR cavatelli  

gigli = riccioli = campanelle   Notes:   This Italian pasta consists of flower shapes (gigli is Italian for "lilies").  It's good with heart, chunky sauces.   Substitutes:   fusilli OR rotini OR gemelli OR farfalle OR radiatore OR penne OR macaroni OR rigatoni OR ziti OR ruote OR conchiglie OR cavatelli

gnocchetti   Pronunciation:  nyo-KAY-tay  Notes:   This Italian pasta 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 OR orecchiette OR malloreddus

gramigna  Notes:  These are small curls of Italian pasta that are good with light sauces.  Substitutes:  carnneroni OR tubetti

lumache   Pronunciation:  loo-MAH-chay  Notes:   Lumache (Italian for "snails") are shells that are often served with chunky sauces.  A larger shell, called lumaconi, is usually stuffed and baked.  Substitutes:   conchiglie OR fusilli OR gemelli OR farfalle OR radiatore OR penne OR macaroni OR rigatoni OR ziti OR ruote OR conchiglie OR cavatelli

lumaconi = giant snails   Notes:   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 OR manicotti OR cannelloni 

malloreddus = gnocchetti sardi   Notes:  This Sardinian pasta is very similar to gnocchetti, except that it's often flavored with saffron.  Substitutes:  gnocchetti OR cavatelli

maltagliati   Notes:  Maltagliati means "poorly cut" in Italian, and the name is used for various kinds of pasta scraps.  

margherite  Notes:  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 margheritineSubstitutes:   gigli OR conchiglie

orecchiette   Pronunciation:  oh-reck-ee-ET-tay  Notes:  These "little ears" are pieces of Italian pasta shaped like tiny ears or bowls.   Substitutes:   fusilli OR orzo OR acini di pepe OR tubettini OR conchiglette OR coralli 

quadrefiore  Substitutes:  penne


radiatori   Notes:   A type of Italian pasta, these resemble small radiators.  The "grills" do a good job of scooping up chunky sauces. Substitutes:  farfalle OR conchiglie OR ruote OR rotini

ruote = ruotine = wagon wheels = wheels = ruote de carro   Pronunciation:  roo-OH-tay  Notes:   These are shaped like wagon wheels, and they're great with chunky sauces or in pasta salads.  Substitutes:  farfalle OR conchiglie OR radiatori OR penne 

rotini = rotelle = spirals = twists   Notes:   These pasta shapes look like short springs made from spaghetti.  They're good with chunky sauces, or in pasta salads.  Substitutes:  fusilli OR ruote OR gemelli OR torchio OR penne

spiralini  Notes:  These are spring-shaped lengths of Italian pasta.  They're good with chunky sauces, or in pasta salads.  A larger version is called spirali.   Substitutes:  fusilli OR rotini OR ruote OR gemelli OR torchio OR penne


strozzapreti = strozzapretti  Pronunciation:   stroh-tzuh-PRAY-tee  Notes:  The name means "priest strangler" in Italian, and it refers to a pasta shape that resembles a rolled towel. Substitutes:   gemelli OR penne OR casareccie OR fusilli 


torchio   Notes:   These pasta shapes resemble torches, the better to scoop up chunky sauces.  Substitutes:  gigli OR orecchiette OR farfalle OR conchiglie OR radiotori 

trenne   Pronunciation:  TRAY-nay  Notes:  This Italian pasta is triangular, and cut into short lengths.  It's good with chunky sauces or in casseroles.  Substitutes:  penne OR trennette OR ziti

trennette   Pronunciation:  train-NATE-tay  Notes:    This triangular Italian pasta is similar to trenne, only smaller.  Don't confuse this with trenette, which is a long ribbon of pasta.   Substitutes:  trenne OR penne OR ziti OR mostaccioli

troffiette  Notes:    A Ligurian specialty, these are small, twisted bits of pasta.  They're often served with pesto.   Substitutes:  strozzapretti

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