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The different types of pasta and how to use them

Pasta is a versatile and popular food designed for a variety of dishes, explore different types of pasta and plenty of recipes to make with them.

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12 types of pasta and recipes to use them in

Pasta dishes are the third most popular evening meal in Australia, behind only steak with veggies and roasts. It makes sense, pasta is the base to hundreds of different flavour combinations, and there are lots of different types of pasta shapes that work well in different recipes. This also means that you can have a lot of fun experimenting with new pasta recipes. Read on to learn some of the most popular types of pasta and the best recipes to make with them!

Long pasta

Long noodles are some of the most common types of pasta, you'll find a packet of these in almost every pantry. They're perfect for twirling, and can be served up in a lovely nest shape for a sophisticated looking bowl of pasta. Find out which sauces go best with these shapes.

Spaghetti
Spaghetti is a classic for a reason. Its long, thin cylindrical shape is fun to twirl, easy to eat, and has a great texture that you can really sink your teeth into. Spaghetti bolognese or pasta with red sauce are the most popular spaghetti dishes. Loved around the world, and perhaps the most famous pasta dish, it's the perfect way to eat this long noodle. Try these Cheesy Meatballs with Fresh Tomato and Basil Sauce and enjoy with a bowl of spaghetti.

Fettuccine
Fettuccine's shape is flat, wide and long, rather than thin and round. It pairs nicely with a cheese sauce. Whether you want chicken alfredo or a bacon carbonara, this is the perfect noodle to stir into a creamy base. Another great thing about this noodle is that it's easy to make from scratch! Make this easy pasta dough, and once rolled flat, simply cut the pasta into long ribbons and you have beautiful, fresh fettuccine.

Linguine
Linguine takes the best traits from spaghetti and fettuccine and combines them. It's about as wide as spaghetti but flat like fettuccine, and it works well with an assortment of sauces. We love this easy 20-minute linguine recipe with lots of bacon, parmesan and greens

 

Tube pasta

The hollow shape of tubular pasta is perfect for grabbing hold of lots of your favourite sauce. Short tube pasta is popular for pasta bakes and pastitsio.

Penne
These noodles are usually 4-5cm long and cut at an angle, so they resemble the tip of a fountainhead pen. The hollow is about the same size as a pencil. It can be smooth or 'penne rigate' which has ridges, a pleasing texture and great for holding even more sauce. Penne is a good choice for baked pasta dishes, it holds up well in the oven and is the perfectly sized mouthful. Try using this pasta in a carbonara pasta bake with meat and vegetables. 

Rigatoni
Rigatoni is a large tube noodle that is wider than penne and cut short and straight. It has ridges along its length. It goes great with pesto, an easy to make sauce of basil, pine nuts, cheese, garlic and oil. Try them together in this recipe for Chicken Pesto Pasta. Serve with garlic bread for added deliciousness.

Macaroni
One of the smaller tube pastas, macaroni is short and has a narrow tube. Sometimes it has a bend in it, this is known as elbow macaroni. Macaroni is most famously used in rich and tasty mac and cheese, a classic comfort food or side dish. Use standard macaroni or switch it up with elbow macaroni on this beautifully saucy baked mac and cheese with a crispy golden topping.

Other Shapes

There's an almost endless number of pasta shapes out there, and each one has its benefits. Here are some other popular shapes that fall outside the above categories and the recipes to make with them.

Lasagne

Large, flat sheets of pasta are known as lasagne. The classic layered dish of pasta, bolognese and bechamel is known as lasagne, but there are lots of different versions like Chicken and Mushroom Lasagne or Roasted Pumpkin and Spinach Lasagne. Lasagne sheets sometimes have a rippled edge, and they can be used fresh or dried. If you're using dried sheets, cook your dish for 10-15 minutes longer than if you were using fresh pasta, or until it's tender.
 

Farfalle
This is also known as bowtie pasta because it looks just like a little bowtie with frilled edge. It's excellent for holding sauce because of the crinkle where it comes together at the center. It holds up well when baked in the oven. Try this cooking it up in this creamy chicken, bacon and mushroom bake balanced with the flavours of white wine and lemon. Its pretty shape also makes it a favoured choice for pasta salads like this Zesty Farfalle Salad

Rotini or Fusilli
Rotini and fusilli both describe the same spiral-shaped noodle. They look like little corkscrews and are loads of fun to bite into, especially for little kids that like to eat with their hands. This richly textured pasta works wonderfully in the recipe for Tuna, Tomato and Mozzarella Bake. All the curls in the corkscrew-shaped noodles are great for picking up lots of sauce.

Shells
Pasta shells look like their namesake: open, rounded seashells. They come in many sizes - from thimble-sized, to big enough to fill the palm of your hand. The smaller ones are great for fresh sauces or bakes, and the larger sizes are perfect for stuffing with your favourite fillings. They are often filled with a combination of creamy ricotta cheese and other ingredients, like in this Pumpkin, Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells recipe

Gnocchi
Gnocchi are little pasta dumplings made from potato and flour. They are lovely, round and pillowy, and are sold in a fresher form than most pasta, so they can cook in as little as two minutes. Their larger shape makes them wonderfully filling and comforting in dishes like this Pizza Pasta Bake, great for feeding a crowd or a group of hungry kids!

Orecchiette
The translation of orecchiette is literally 'small ears' because their round dimpled shape is similar to an ear. Their cupped shape holds pasta sauce and other ingredients well, and their texture when cooked is softer in the centre and a little chewy around the edges. If you've never tried orecchiette before, try this recipe for Orecchiette with Capsicum and Caper Brown Butter and it might just become a staple in your kitchen!

Risoni
These tiny pasta look like grains of rice, in North America they're commonly called orzo. They cook quickly, and are popular to use in soups and stews. They're also great in salads, or bakes like this 30 Minute Cheesy Chicken Risoni
 

Get creative with all types of pasta

Choosing the perfect pasta shape for your next meal is a great way to get creative and try something new and fun in the kitchen. Now that you know some of the best types of pasta that you can put on your dinner table, scroll down to find plenty more pasta recipes to enjoy at home. Enjoy!

GET THE RECIPE: Quick and Easy Fettuccine Carbonara

Use fettucine in this delicious creamy carbonara. A wonderfully tasty meal in just 17 minutes!

GET THE RECIPE: Pumpkin, Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells recipe

Ricotta, bacon and pumpkin make up the delicious filling for these pasta shells. Baked to golden perfection, this cosy meal will be enjoyed by the whole family.

GET THE RECIPE: Chicken Pesto Pasta recipe

Pesto is great with rigatoni because it has lots of ridges to pick up more of that herby green sauce. Add shredded chicken and it's a meal ideal for any season.

Cheesy Meatballs with Fresh Tomato and Basil Sauce

One Pot Bacon, Broccoli and Pea Linguine

Carbonara Pasta Bake

Chicken Pesto Pasta

Baked Mac and Cheese

Lemon, Chicken, Bacon and Mushroom Farfalle Bake

Quick and Easy Fettuccine Carbonara

Vegetable lasagne

Pasta Primavera

Pumpkin, Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

30-Minute Pizza Pasta Bake

Four Cheese Zoodle Spaghetti

Quick Chicken, Spinach and Pumpkin Pasta Bake

Creamy Chicken, Mushroom and Chive Fettuccine

Garlic, Lemon Pan Fried Gnocchi with Basil Ricotta

Classic Beef Lasagne

Chicken Lasagne Rollups

Roasted Pumpkin and Spinach Lasagne