Food

7 Types of Pasta – and 25 Ways to Eat ‘Em

Pasta is the answer to many of life’s questions: What’s for dinner? What’s your favorite food? What did the Lady and the Tramp share during their romantic meal in the alleyway? We had pasta for dinner last night, what should we have tonight?

All of these questions can be answered with one, simple word: pasta.

It’s crazy to think that one food can have so many forms. There are thin ribbons, thick strands, wheels, elbows, spirals, radiators, and that’s just to name a few of this iconic food.

Although many of us love pasta, we may not know the real name of the pasta we love.

Consider this your beginner’s guide to some of the most popular shapes and their ideal uses!

Spaghetti

Long, thin noodles that are often considered the shape America loves most. Spaghetti can be dressed with light or heavy sauces and is eaten by twirling your fork to gather the pasta into a compact bite. Check out some of our favorite spaghetti recipes:

Garlic and Lemon Spaghetti

Photo by The Rachael Ray Show

Spaghetti with Bacon and Cabbage

Photo by The Rachael Ray Show

Mushroom and Shallot Spaghetti with Crispy Prosciutto

Photo by The Rachael Ray Show

BLT Spaghetti

Photo by The Rachael Ray Show

Penne

Penne is another versatile shape that can be paired with virtually any sauce. It’s tubular and bite-sized – the name comes from the Latin word for “feathers” or “quills.” If you’re thinking of making a pasta salad or casserole, penne is often our first choice for its ability to hold extra sauce and flavor in its hollow center:

Penne with Pancetta, Peas and Mascarpone

Photo by The Rachael Ray Show

Penne and Roasted Squash with Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Photo by The Rachael Ray Show

Florentine Penne with Chicken

Penne alla Senese

Photo by The Rachael Ray Show

Pappardelle

Fat in width and long in length, there’s a whole lot of pappardelle in one noodle. With its large size, it can hold up against the heaviest additions like veggies or meats, and you’ll see Rachael use papparadelle often in dishes like ragus:

Cauliflower Pappardelle with Gorgonzola

Photo by The Rachael Ray Show

Veal or Chicken Ragu with Mushrooms and Marsala

Photo by The Rachael Ray Show

Pappardelle in Chianti Sauce

Photo by The Rachael Ray Show

Fusilli

You may know fusilli as the spiral noodle. With its ridges and texture, it often holds sauces well in its small crevices. It’s fun to eat and has excel

Gluten-Free Corny Fusilli

Photo by The Rachael Ray Show

Roasted Pea and Carrot Pasta

Rigatoni

Rach likes to call rigatoni “rigs” or “riggies,” for short. Rigatoni have large groves and a tubular shape, making them ideal for chunky, cream, or cheese sauces. In our opinion, nothing beats some rigs with a delish cheese sauce and lots of meat!

Rigatoni Quattro Formaggi with Roasted Garlic and Crispy Sage, and Escarole Salad

Photo by The Rachael Ray Show

White Meat Sauce

Photo by The Rachael Ray Show

Riggies with Charred Tomatoes, Hot Sausage, Kale and Ricotta

Photo by The Rachael Ray Show

Baked Pasta with Butternut Squash, Sausage & Ricotta

Photo by The Rachael Ray Show

Sweet Pepper Riggies

Photo by The Rachael Ray Show

Riggies with Chunky Vegetable Sauce

Photo by The Rachael Ray Show

Gnocchi

Consider gnocchi a cross-breed of potato and pasta. It has an airy composition, making it feel like a pillow in your mouth that slowly melts away. Flavored butter or sauce really brings out the best in this pasta, where the texture is just as important as the taste.

Gnocchi or Spinach Gnocchi with Pomodoro Sauce

Pork or Veal Chops with Sage and Gnocchi with Gorgonzola and Walnuts

Photo by The Rachael Ray Show

Roast Chicken Ragu

Photo by The Rachael Ray Show

Lasagna

The widest noodle of them all, Lasagna is a heavy lifter. It’s crafted to hold delicious layers of sauce, meat, veggies and cheese, made with ridged edges and a sturdy composition.

Butternut Squash and Escarole Lasagna

Photo by The Rachael Ray Show

Lasagna with Meat Ragu

Photo by The Rachael Ray Show

Pumpkin Lovers’ Lasagna

Let us know what your favorite pasta shape is on Facebook!

[Lead photo by The Rachael Ray Show]

What's Fresh from @RachaelRay

Rachael Ray