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!
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:
BLT Spaghetti 
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:
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:
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
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!
White Meat Sauce 
Sweet Pepper Riggies 
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.
Roast Chicken Ragu 
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.
Let us know what your favorite pasta shape is on Facebook !
[Lead photo by The Rachael Ray Show ]