Pasta is one of the world's most recognizable and favorite dishes. It's simple to make and provides great versatility, allowing for it to be used in a wide variety of different dishes. A major reason for that versatility is the fact that there are numerous different types of pasta, ranging from noodles to stuffable shells. Most often made with eggs, pasta can also be made from spinach or wheat and can be made into different colors using ingredients such as squid ink.
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Spaghetti is one of the most well-known types of pasta across the globe. It has a simple appearance: long, round-shaped strands of pasta. It's often used in easy-to-prepare dishes, topped with a sauce and meat and/or vegetable.
More commonly known as "corkscrew pasta" in North America, fusilli has a long, thick spiral shape. Like spaghetti, fusilli is often used with a sauce and meat/vegetable combination.
Tagliatelle holds the shape of a long, flat ribbon and is very similar to fettuccine pasta. Tagliatelle dishes usually pair the pasta with a thicker sauce such as Bolognese, which is a meat-based sauce. Other popular toppings for tagliatelle include shrimp and steak tips.
Like tagliatelle, fettuccine is a long, ribbonlike pasta, although it is slightly smaller than tagliatelle. Fettuccine is most famous for the fettuccine Alfredo dish, which pairs the pasta with Alfredo sauce, a cheese- and butter-based sauce. Fettuccine is also commonly paired with chicken, vegetables and seafood, along with a thin sauce.
Cannelloni are flat pasta sheets that are rolled into tubes and stuffed with various ingredients. Most common fillings include ricotta cheese and spinach, but it can also be stuffed will meat- and seafood-based fillings and then topped with a lighter sauce.
Penne pasta is a small, cylinder-shaped type of pasta. It often comes in egg, spinach and tomato combinations, and is served with a sauce such as marinara, pesto or olive oil. In North America, penne is used in the popular baked ziti casserole dish, made with tomato sauce, meat and cheese mixed together.
Linguine pasta is long, flat and narrow in appearance. It bears a strong similarity to spaghetti and is often used in similar pasta and sauce dishes.
Tortellini is a circular-shaped pasta that is often filled with a type of cheese, such as Gorgonzola, or a meat filling. Most times, tortellini is used in broth dishes.
Farfalle is better known as the "bow-tie" pasta, due to its appearance, which resembles a bow-tie (or a butterfly). It is a smaller but thick pasta and is best suited to be used with cream- or tomato-based sauces.
Rigatoni is like a bigger, thicker type of penne pasta, and as such is shaped like a tube. Too small to be stuffed with anything, rigatoni is often used as a stand-alone dish (pasta, sauce and topping). However, due to its thick texture, it can also be successfully used in a baked dish.