04/03/2017 12:05 EDT | Updated 04/03/2017 12:05 EDT

The Ultimate Pasta Guide: All Shapes And Sizes Defined

Various mix of pasta on wooden rustic background. Diet and food concept.
id-art via Getty Images
Various mix of pasta on wooden rustic background. Diet and food concept.

So you’re sweet on spaghetti and fond of fettuccine while penne and fusilli are cupboard staples but there are actually hundreds of pasta shapes, each uniquely suited to particular dishes.

Here are some of the most useful and unusual ones, presented in partnership with the Italian Trade Commission.

Acini di pepe

Meaning “peppercorns” in Italian, these tiny pasta balls are perfect in light soups and broths.


Ever wanted to make a healthy version of Spaghetti-Os for your kids? Then you’ll need anelli, a name that translates as “small rings.” Sicilians make a baked pasta dish called Anellini al forno that combines pasta with meat ragu, peas and cheese.



What happens when a thick spaghetti pasta crosses a straw? You get bucatini — a thick spaghetti noodle with a hollow centre that’s best served in an Amatriciana sauce, a simple tomato sauce.


This ridged, corkscrew-shaped pasta is perfect for sauces made with finely chopped ingredients. That’s because each ingredient latches on to the crevices of the pasta, making for the perfect bite each and every time. Try it carbonara with pieces of Italian-made Pancetta .


Usually just called “seashells” or “shells” in English, this type of pasta comes in various sizes. Small shells (conchigliette) are great for soups and pasta salads while the larger ones (conchiglioni) can be stuffed with a meat or vegetable filling.



Also known as bow-tie pasta, farfalle is a versatile pasta— it can stand up to a thick, chunky sauce, and kids love it in soups. Use tri-colour farfalle to make an eye-catching pasta salad dressed with Italian-made Balsamic Vinegar from Modena PGI and Pecorino Romano PDO.


Long before it was a much-maligned Ben Affleck-Jennifer Lopez movie, gigli was a flower-shaped pasta from Florence with a name that means “lily.”


Shaped like small snail shells, lumache works well with thick, chunky sauces.



They look like tiny, shallow bowls but their name actually means “little ears.” Try them tossed with broccoli, garlic and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.


The name of this twisted, tubular pasta means “priest strangler.” According to legend, hungry clergymen wolfed it down, sometimes with unfortunate consequences.

Frustrated that your homemade pasta dishes don’t taste quite like those at your favourite Italian restaurant or ones you remember fondly from your trip to Italy? The secret lies in authentic Italian-made ingredients — cured meats, balsamic vinegar, cheeses, extra virgin olive oil, pasta and so much more. Learn more here.