Pasta is noodles of different shapes made from unleavened dough of durum wheat flour and can also be made with flour from other cereals or grains. Pasta has become one of the most loved dish around the world, as it is affordable, easy to prepare, versatile food and can be served as an appetizer, salad, starter, main course or even as a dessert.
Depending on what the recipe calls for, pasta are both, in the dried (pasta secca) and fresh (pasta fresca) forms. Fresh pasta is hand-made with eggs and flour, rolled out, cut into desired shapes and cooked. The shelf life of fresh pasta is short, and being delicate, works well with rich cream sauces.
Dry pasta on the other hand is factory made, ready to use and with a longer shelf life. Ingredients like olives, anchovies, chili, ground meat or seafood are best suited with dry pasta.
Here are some of the most popular shapes of Pasta used in the kitchen...
The word Macaroni literally means “narrow tubes”. Used for delicate cream based to tomato based sauces and works best in casseroles.
Ravioli are square or round pillow shaped pasta that could have a variety of fillings like cheese, mushroom, meat, or butter like Burnt Butter Sage sauce.
Spaghetti in Italian means “A length of a cord”. It is a very popular pasta shape that goes well with a variety of sauces as a main course.
Tortellini is pasta shaped like a ring which is usually stuffed and pairs well with broths.
The word Lasagne comes from the Latin word “lasanum” meaning pot. Lasagne casseroles are made by using chopped vegetables or a tomato based meat sauce and cheese.
Fusilli literally means “Twisted Spaghetti”. It holds well in baked dishes such as Casseroles.
Penne means “Quills” or “Feathers”. It complements every sauces, however tastes beautiful when paired with a chunky tomato based sauces like an Arrabiata.
Rigatoni translates to “Large Grooved” pasta. The ridges and holes are perfect for holding a sauce, perfect in a main course.
9. Elbow Macaroni
A versatile elbow shaped pasta that could easily be paired with any sauce.
10. Farfelle (Bow Ties) / Farfalline
A bow tie shaped pasta that can be paired with any sauce. It can also be baked, or added in soups and salads.
It is very similar to Fussilli but only a smaller version. It actually means “Spirals” or “Twists” and its shape works well with stir-fry meals.
The word Riccioli means “Curl”. This pasta’s twisted shape grips the sauces making it a favorite with a variety of sauces or even in salads and casseroles.
13. Conchiglie (Shells – Small, Medium, and Large)
Large shells are best used when they are stuffed with any mixtures or fillings and also used in salads and soups.
This pasta has a rounded tight spiral shape that locks-in the flavor and is best for salads.
Linguine literally means “Little Tongues”. It complements a variety of sauces and used in main courses.
It is a type of pasta in the form of broad ribbons that goes well with a wholesome ground meat in tomato sauce.
17. Pipe Rigate
This pasta has a wide opening at one end, flattened at the other. The shape resembles a snail shell and pairs well with oil based sauces.
Apart from traditional ways and regional preferences for a shape, pasta’s ability to hold and support the sauce is what is most important. However, there is no rule stating which shape should be paired with which sauce.
Pasta Recipe of the Day - Cannelloni with Spinach and Ricotta
About Cannelloni with Spinach and Ricotta
Ricotta is an Italian whey cheese made from sheep (or cow, goat, or Italian water buffalo) milk whey that is left over from the production of cheese. The Ricotta curd is creamy white in appearance, and slightly sweet in taste.
Cannelloni are cylindrical shaped pasta, generally served baked with a filling and covered by sauce. Some types of Cannelloni need to be boiled beforehand, while for the others, it is enough to use a more diluted sauce or filling.
The popular stuffing includes spinach & ricotta or minced beef. The sauces typically used here are tomato which spreads through the under layer of the dish and béchamel sauce covering the top.
The Cannelloni with Ricotta and Spinach have four different elements in the dish - First is the béchamel sauce that gives a creamy texture to the dish. Second, the Pomodoro sauce that gives a fresh tangy flavour. Third being the Spinach and Ricotta filling which serves as the body of dish. And lastly, the Cannelloni that becomes the base and holds all the elements together.
Recipe Card (to serve 4 pax)
|Cannelloni shells (dried)
|For the Béchamel Sauce
|Parmesan cheese (grated)
|For the Pomodoro Sauce
|Tomato (whole or crushed, peeled in juice)
|Salt & black pepper
|For the Spinach and Ricotta Filling
|Parmesan cheese (grated)
|Salt & black pepper
Method of Cooking
a. To make the Béchamel Sauce
- In a sauce pan, boil milk with cloves, bay leaf & onion.
- In another sauce pan, cook butter & flour together to make a roux. Do not color.
- Strain the clove, bay leaf & onion from the milk, cool and add the milk to the roux slowly.
- Whisk together till smooth, cook on a gentle heat until thick, and then add cheese and nutmeg.
- Add cream to adjust the consistency.
- Season if required and set aside.
b. To make the Pomodoro Sauce
- Heat a sauce pan; add olive oil, garlic and sauté.
- Add the tomatoes and simmer the sauce on a very low heat, stirring from time to time until it thickens.
- Add basil and season then drizzle a little olive oil and mix into the sauce.
c. To make the Filling
- Blanch the spinach, by immersing it in boiling water for 5 – 10 seconds, remove from the hot water, plunge in cold water, drain and squeeze to remove excess moisture and chop.
- Heat pan with olive oil. Sauté the onions and spinach. Add oregano, salt & black pepper to taste.
- Remove pan from heat, cool the mixture down and mix in the ricotta.
- Mix well until smooth. Fill the mixture into the pasta tubes using a piping bag or teaspoon.
d. Assembling the Cannelloni
- Preheat oven to 180˚C.
- Spread 2 tablespoons of Pomodoro sauce on the base of the ceramic dish and arrange the filled Cannelloni tubes on it.
- Spread the remaining Pomodoro on top of the tubes and drizzle the Béchamel on top of the Pomodoro.
- Sprinkle with grated Parmesan.
- Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes.
- Serve hot garnished with Basil leaf