All Shapes of Pasta (Short Pasta)

All Shapes of Pasta (Short Pasta)

Apr 01, 2020Donatella Mulvoni

Do you like long or short pasta better? It’s an age old question, and everyone has a preference. However, even if you love both, you have to calibrate your choice to the recipe you plan on preparing. 



We’ve already talked about long pasta: spaghetti, pappardelle, and linguine, to name a few. However, each city has its own varieties of short pasta. Let’s take a look at a few of them!



Yes, really!

  • Penne means ‘pens,’ because this kind of pasta is shaped like a pen. Penne are short and cylindrical, with angled edges. They go well with any sauce.
  • Rigatoni are larger than penne. They are tube-shaped with ridged edges. This type of pasta traps sauce in its center, so it goes well with any condiment, be it tomato, cheese, or meat-based.
  • Farfalle: kids love this pasta shape, named after and resembling butterflies. Farfalle are less common than rigatoni and penne, but any Italian instantly feels at home in front of a plate of this pasta! This shape is well suited for a simple butter sauce, or a white sauce with salmon or cubed prosciutto cotto with peas.
  • Fusilli are helical-shaped and about as long as rigatoni, though not as wide. Italians love to eat fusilli with thick sauces, but they also go well with peas, cherry tomatoes and vegetables, or regular red sauce.
  • Cavatelli are made with eggless semolina dough. Italians would describe them as looking like shells, though Americans may compare them to hot dog buns. They go well with norma sauce, made with tomato sauce, ricotta, and eggplant, but are also well-suited for a seafood sauce.
  • Maccheroni: This pasta’s fame precedes it, especially in the United States. While this curved, short type of pasta is extremely popular in the United States (who doesn’t love ‘Macaroni and Cheese?’) it does not exist in Italy. It’s an Italian-American tradition!


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