In Italian, pasta means "paste," and refers to a dough made of durum wheat flour combined with a liquid, usually water or milk. Almost every country has a form of pasta. Pasta describes a wide variety of noodles made from this type of dough. Some doughs have egg added, although doughs made with only four and eggs are generally referred to as noodles.
Anelli / Aniline: small rings, anellini being the smallest version.
Bucatini / Bucatoni: Long medium tubes slightly thicker than spaghttti used for basic pasta dishes. Bucatoni being the thicker of the two.
Cannelloni: Large, thick round pasta tubes, typically stuffed then baked with a sauce.
Capelli D'Angelo: Long thin strands of angel hair very similar to spaghetti.
Cochiglie / Conchiglioni: Ridged shells, with Conchiglioni being the larger version.
Cresti di gallo: Medium-size and curved with a ruffled crest on the outside edge.
Ditali/ Ditalini: "Thimbles." Small, very short tubes of macaroni.
Farfalle: "Butterflies." Bow or butterfly-shape.
Fettuccine / Fettuccini: "Little Ribbons." Thin, flat egg noodles about 1/4 inch wide
Fusilli: A spiraled spaghetti
Gemelli: Short, 1 1/2 inch long twists that resemble two strands of spaghetti twisted together
Lasagna; pl. Lasagne: Long, very broad noodles (2-3 inches wide) with straight or rippled edges.
Linguini: Very narrow (1/2 inch wide or less), long ribbons.
Lumache: Large snail-shaped shells intended for stuffing.
Macaroni: Tube shapes of various lengths.
Orecchiette: "Little ears." Tiny disk shapes.
Penne: Quill shaped small pasta; diagonally-cut smooth tubes. Penne rigate have ridged sides.
Rigatoni: Large grooved macaroni about 1 1/2 inches wide.
Spaghetti: Long, thin, round strands.
Tagliarini: Long, paper-thin ribbons, usually less thatn 1/2 inch wide.
Tagliatelle: Long, thin, flat egg noodles about 1/4 inch wide.
Vermicelli: Very thin strands of spaghetti.
Season: available year-round
How to select: There are many shapes, sizes, thicknesses, and colors. conchiglie (shells), farfalle (bows), rotelle (corkscrews). Ravioli and tortelini have fillings. Some are colored with spinach (green), beet juice or tomato paste (red), or squid ink (gray). Pasta can be dried or fresh. Dried pasta made with semolina is preferred.
How to store: Store dried pasta in a cool, dry place indefinitely. Store fresh pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 4 days or in the freezer for 1 month.
How to prepare: Several manufacturers make flavored pastas, many of which have vibrant colors. Popular flavors include spinach, tomato, beet, carrot, and chile.
Matches well with: basil, beans, butter, cheese, chiles, cream, garlic, herbs, lobster, mushrooms, olives oil, pancetta, Parmesan cheese, pepper, pesto, pine nuts, potatoes, ricotta, Romano cheese, tomatoes, truffles