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The Pasta Glossary:

Extruded Forms and More


Extruded Pasta: Pasta that's forced through a die, then cut to the proper length and dried. It's almost always made from durum wheat, water, and salt (no egg), and the better quality pasta makers extrude their dough through bronze dies, which require more pressure but leave microstriations that capture the sauce when the pasta is seasoned. Cheaper pasta is made with Teflon or other non-stick surfaced dies, and is smoother. The better artisanal pasta is also dried more slowly, over a period of several days, and this makes it more flavorful. Commercial pasta makers instead usually dry at higher temperatures (70-80 C, 140-160 F), and this drives out some of the flavor.
Extruded pasta can be:
Long strands
of the spaghetti family, which are commonly used with liquid to moderately thick sauces.
  • Bavette: Thin flattened strands, rather like tagliatelle.
  • Bucatini: Thick hollow strands, with a sausage-and-eggplant sauce.
  • Capellini: Fine strands, with a parsley cream sauce.
  • Spaghetti: Likely the best known pasta shape, with a tomato-and-anchovy sauce.
  • Spaghettini: Spaghetti's slightly finer cousin, with a tasty shrimp-and-clam sauce.
Cylinders of various sizes, for example penne, rigatoni, or sedanini. The thickness of the sauce depends upon the diameter of the pasta. Some of these are also baked, while others are used in soups rather than with a sauce.
  • Gomiti Rigati Elbow macaroni, which work nicely with chunky sauces, and capture the liquid of the sauce in the hollows. Also a pea sauce for them.
  • Mezze Maniche Stubby, fairly broad tubes that work quite well with chunky sauces, and an artichoke sauce.
  • Penne Lisce Smooth sided penne, which work well with creamy sauces, and a mock carbonara sauce, enriched by cream and a shallot.
  • Penne Rigate The standby again, with a tasty, rich smoked salmon sauce.
  • Pipe Rigate Elbow-penne.
  • Pipette Rigate Elbow-penne, and a scampi sauce.
  • Riccioli Amalfitani Riccioli are sedani with a twist (the word means curls), and a rich, chunky eggplant and mozzarella sauce.
  • Rigatoni And a tasty, cremay tomato-and-sausage sauce.
  • Sedani RigatiCelery stalks, and a chicken-and-prune sauce to go with them.
  • Sedanini Rigati Small celery stalks, and a brandy and turkey breast sauce that will work nicely on special occasions.
  • Tortiglioni A little larger than penne, with a tasty artichoke sauce.
And Then There Are Specialty Shapes: Farfalle, orsacchiotti, and so on. Some of these are recent innovations, whereas others are traditional.
  • Casarecce Casarecce are simple, partially rolled (around the long axis) pappardelle, and will work quite well with chunky sauces, e.g eggplant and swordfish sauce.
  • Farfalle Butterflies or bow ties, and a bell-pepper-and-arugola sauce for them.
  • Fusilli Corkscrews, with a zucchini sauce.
  • Fusilli Bucati Corkscrews with holes running down the middles of the strands, and an interesting artichoke sauce to go with them.
  • Fusilli Stretti Tightly wound corkscrews, and a clam-and-leek sauce for them.
  • Lumaconi Snail shells, and a ricotta-and-ham filling.
  • Orsetti Teddy Bear shaped pasta (for kids) and a chicken-and-zucchini sauce for them.
Blebs, stars and bits: Kinds of durum wheat pasta generally used in soups.
  • Ditaloni Neapolitan "thimbles" for soup, and a zucchini-and-eggplant soup to go with them.
  • Farfalline Bow ties, and a creamy tomato cheese soup.
  • Grattugiata Bits of pasta, and a spring-like vegetable-and-potato soup.
  • Midolline Bits of pasta that look like mellon seeds, and a radicchio-based soup to go with them.
  • Stelline Tiny stars, and a creamy asparagus-and-mint soup.
Handmade Shapes: Things like orecchiette or pici.
  • Orecchiette Little ears from Puglia, and an olive-and-tomato sauce.
Flavored Pastas: Here the flavoring is up to the imagination of the pasta maker.
  • Five Colored Shells Several colors of shells, and a chunky sauce made with tomatoes, eggplant, and olives.
  • Penne al Fungo Porcino Pasta made with porcini mushrooms is delightful with butter and grated cheese.
  • Penne al Peperoncino Hot peppers are perhaps the most common flavoring for pasta, and here mesh with a zesty caper and anchovy sauce.
  • Spirali algi Spinaci Pasta made with spinach works nicely with tomato sauce.
Had Enough Of Shapes? Then Try:
Home-Made Pasta
How to make the basic building block for ravioli, lasagna and lots of other things at home. Also, suggestions for coloring (and flavoring) home-made pasta.

And Finally:

Cooking and Serving Pasta
It's easy, but there are some rules.

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