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How to identify pasta shapes: A see and say guide

From angel hair to ziti — you think you know them all? You might want to check here first. See pictures of pastas, learn why they’re called what they are and determine which sauces go with each kind the best!

Sauces and pastas
When making delicious pasta dishes, be sure to choose a pasta shape and sauce that complement each other. Thin, delicate pastas like angel hair or thin spaghetti, should be served with light, thin sauces. Thicker pasta shapes, like fettuccine, work well with heavier sauces. Pasta shapes with holes or ridges like mostaccioli or radiatore, are perfect for chunkier sauces.

Alphabets — This favorite kids’ shape is usually used in soups for a fun meal anytime.

Angel Hair, Capellini [CAP-a-lee-nee] (“Fine Hairs”) — Thin, delicate strands are best if used with thinner, delicate sauces. Other uses: break in half and put in soup; use in salads or stir-fry meals.

Bow Ties, Farfalle [far-fol-LEE] (“Butterflies”) — Bow Ties brighten any meal with their interesting shape. Thick enough for any sauce, or make into a salad or soup.

Ditalini [dit-a-LEE-nee] (“Little Thimbles”) — This versatile shape can be used as the base of any dish. Bake it, stir it into soups, or create great salads and stir-fry dishes.

Egg Noodles, Medium (From “Nudel,” German meaning paste with egg) — This size of Egg Noodle can be baked, tossed in soups or salads, or topped with cream, tomato, cheese or meat sauces for a delicious meal.

Egg Noodles, Wide — Go beyond the traditional Stroganoff and use, Wide Egg Noodles to create soups, salads and casseroles. Or, top with any sauce and serve hot.

Fettuccine [fet-a-CHEE-nee] (“Small Ribbons”) — Perfect for heavier sauces, like cheese, meat and tomato sauces. For variety, try breaking in half and putting in soups, or use for a salad.

Fusilli [foo-SILL-ee] (“Twisted Spaghetti”) — This long, spiraled shape can be topped with any sauce, broken in half and added to soups, or turned into a beautiful salad. Fusilli also bakes well in casseroles.

Lasagne [la-ZON-ya] (From “lasanum,” Latin for pot) — Create new Lasagne casseroles by using chopped vegetables, cheeses and any kind of sauce. You can also assemble your casserole and freeze it for later.

Linguine [lin-GWI-nee] (“Little Tongues”) — A great shape for all sauces. Also a good choice for salads and stir-fry dishes.

Macaroni [mack-a-ROW-nee] (“Dumpling”) — A highly versatile shape that can be topped with any sauce, baked, or put in soups, salads and stir-fry dishes.

Manicotti [man-a-COT-tee] (“Small Muffs”) — Stuff Manicotti with a mixture of meat, cheese and vegetables, top with your favorite sauce, and bake. Or stuff and freeze for a later time.

Orzo (“Barley”) — This small, grain shaped pasta can be topped with any sauce, added to soups, or baked as a casserole. Perfect as a side dish as well as a main course.

Penne, Mostaccioli [mos-ta-CHOL-ee] (“Quills” and “Small Mustaches,” respectively) — This tubular pasta goes well with sauce, used in salads, baked in casseroles, or made into stir fry dishes.

Radiatore [rad-e-a-TOR-ee] (“Radiators”) — This ruffled, ridged shape adds elegant interest to any sauce. It also works well baked in casseroles, or used in salads and soups.

Rigatoni [rig-a-TONE-ee] (“Large Grooved”) — Rigatoni’s ridges and holes are perfect with any sauce, from cream or cheese to the chunkiest meat sauces.

Rotini [row-TEE-nee] (“Spirals” or “Twists”) — Rotini’s twisted shape holds bits of meat, vegetables and cheese, so it works well with any sauce, or you can use it to create fun salads, baked casseroles, or stir-fry meals.

Shells, Conchiglie [Kon-KEEL-yeh] (“Shells”), Medium — Shells make a great addition to soups or as the base of a wonderful salad. Try remaking your favorite macaroni and cheese using Shells, for a fun twist on a time-honored tradition.

Shells, Jumbo — Best when stuffed with your favorite mixtures of cheese, meat and vegetables. Stuff with meat flavored with taco seasoning, top with salsa and bake for a delicious Mexican dish, or create your own stuffed treat.

Spaghetti [spa-GET-tee] (“A Length of Cord”) — America’s favorite shape, Spaghetti is the perfect choice for nearly any sauce, or it can be used to make casseroles or stir-fry dishes. Go beyond tomato sauce and see what your favorite becomes.

Vermicelli [ver-ma-CHEL-ee] (“Little Worms”) — Slightly thinner than Spaghetti, Vermicelli is good topped with any sauce, or as a salad or stir-fry ingredient.

Wagon Wheels, Ruote [roo-O-tay] (“Wheels”) — Wagon Wheels make interesting salads, casseroles and stir-fry dishes. Add to soups, or simply top with sauce and enjoy.

Ziti [zee-tee] (“Bridegrooms”) — A medium-sized, tubular pasta shape, Ziti is perfect for chunky sauces and meat dishes. It also makes wonderful salads, baked dishes and stir-fry meals.

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