The Italians have a secret.
While we're happily munching on penne, spaghetti and tagliatelle, it turns out there are actually more than 300 other shapes of pasta out there. And they each have a history of their own with an affinity for different sauces. So why have we all been eating the boring ones?
We've hand-picked some of the best pasta shapes, so pesto pasta need never be dull again.
Prepare to throw some new shapes in the kitchen. Buon appetito!
Literally translating to ‘rings’, these round loops are typically used in soups and salads. Their tiny size mean they only take about six minutes to cook. Bonus.
Don’t confuse them with: Cheerios. They're not so good with milk.
Related to: The larger shaped pasta anelli. But if, like us, you haven’t heard of that one either, that’s probably not that helpful.
Fusilli lunghi bucati
Like a long and elegant love child of spaghetti and fusilli. We're never having a boring spag bol ever again.
Better than: Linguine. Why go straight when you can have a spiral?
Goes well with: A garlicky tomato pasta sauce. Garnish with fresh basil and chopped blanched almonds.
Pastina is just pasta, as tiny as it gets, in lots of adorable different shapes. We love this square one. Kids in Italy have it cooked with a drizzle of olive oil and some Parmesan on top. Stir a beaten egg through it once cooked to make the sauce super silky.
Goes well with: Fresh cherry tomatoes and basil.
Should I add a sauce?: This is one to keep super simple for comfort food at its best.
Not just a load of broken spaghetti, these short lengths of pasta are usually used in soups such as brodo and minestrone and described by the people trying to sell them as ‘as light as the hair of an angel’. Charming.
In English it means: Cut spaghetti. Makes sense.
What’s brodo anyway? A lovely filling broth.
Lasagne larga doppia riccia
A bit of a mouthful. But this extra-wide, ridged-edge pasta is basically lasagne with a party dress on.
Don’t confuse it with: Ordinary lasagne sheets – we don’t quite know why they make the edges wavy. But we like it.
Can I have cheese with that? For sure. Rich ragù and ricotta works brilliantly.
A stubby little pasta that’s made for minestrone and originates from Naples – pizza ain’t the only Naples staple then.
Translates to: Ditali means ‘thimbles’ in Italian. So now you know.
Don't confuse them with: Hula Hoops. They're not crisps.
Literally meaning 'little stars’, this pasta-shape has been around since the 16th century.
AKA: Avemarie – they're so tiny, Italians say they cook in the time it takes to say one Hail Mary. Handy if you're hungry.
Eat them with: everything.
This ruffle-edged, ribbon-shaped pasta was created to celebrate the birth of Princess Mafalda, the daughter of Vittorio Emanuele III (the last King of Italy). Imagine having a pasta shape named after you. Seriously...
Better than: Pappardelle. It’s thinner and more fancy.
And the ideal sauce? Keep it simple with cheery cherry tomatoes and Pecorino. Done.