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The Pasta Shapes Glossary

Infinite Variety!


Pasta comes in an astonishing variety of shapes, some of which are common throughout Italy, and some of which are limited to a particular region, or even town. There are also specialty shapes produced by individual pasta makers.

Taken as a whole, pasta can be divided into pasta di semola di grano duro, made from durum wheat flour, water, and a little salt, and pasta all'uovo, which is made from eggs, flour, and salt. Commercial pasta all'uovo is generally made with durum wheat flour, which gives it a firmer texture and means it won't go soft if it's overcooked slightly (all pasta will become flabby if seriously overcooked). Homemade pasta is, on the other hand, generally made with cake flour, which has less gluten. Therefore, the cooking time of home made pasta all'uovo is more critical; if you leave it in the water too long it will become flabby.

Commercially made pasta can be divided into several basic kinds:

Sheet Pasta: Used primarily in making baked dishes. Often but not always all'uovo, with eggs.
  • Cannelloni, also known as manicotti, and a pepper-and-ricotta filling.
  • Lasagna: Square or rectangular sheets of pasta, which are cooked, interlayered with other ingredients and baked. There are many many variations.
Strips: Fettuccine, Linguini, tagliatelle, and so on. The broader strips are generally used for thick-to-chunky sauces, whereas the thinner strips are also used for creamier, though never really liquid sauces. Most of these pastas are made with egg, and will say all'uovo on the package.
  • Pappardelle Broad strips, and a chunky tomato-mackerel sauce for them.
  • Reginette Wavy-edged half-inch wide strips of pasta samed after Princess Mafalda of Savoy, which work quite well with rich sauces, and a pheasant breast sauce, that can also be made with duck or Guinea hen.
  • Tagliatelle Quarter-inch strips of pasta, and a tomato and chicken breast sauce.
  • Tagliatelline or Fettuccine Fine (1/8 of an inch) strips, and a smoked salmon sauce for them.
  • Tagliolini All'Uovo The finest of strips, and a creamy mascarpone sauce for them.

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