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Going Gaga Over Pasta

What are the most common food items you consume on a weekly basis? The answer will definitely vary, but I am willing to bet that pasta will make it to the top of the list. There is something about pasta that makes it an easy choice when it comes to preparing meals.

There are so many kinds of pasta you can find – freshly made, dried, straight and long, short and curly – name it, you’ll find that kind of pasta for sure! I have to admit, however, that my pasta choices are usually limited to the dried kind. I also am usually limited to the usual suspects – spaghetti, spaghettini, fettucine, and penne. For people like me, there is a whole world of pasta waiting to be discovered.

Pasta Variety

Pasta Variety

Pasta – Chinese or Italian?

Some of the most popular kinds of pasta that we know today are from Italy. There is, however, the undeniable fact that the oldest-known pasta (or noodle-like food items) was found in China. It is said that the explorer Marco Polo is the man responsible for bringing pasta to the rest of the world. Still, pasta as we know it today is attributed to Italy, where the first verifiable information about this food item was found way back in the 13th or 14th century. I don’t know about you, but whether pasta is Chinese or Italian in origin does not matter much to me. All I know is that I have to have pasta on a regular basis!

Popular kinds of pasta and recipes

Long, extruded noodles

Spaghetti with Cilantro Pesto

Spaghetti with Cilantro Pesto

Perhaps the most common kind of pasta, this group covers noodles such as spaghettini, spaghetti, and spaghettoni. And how do the three differ from each other? It’s really only the thickness – the noodles go from thin to thick. The dish shown in the image is a quick and easy way to prepare spaghetti – Spaghetti with Cilantro Pesto. Doesn’t it look beautiful?

Of course, we can’t talk of spaghetti without thinking of a thick tomato sauce with some juicy beef. This Spaghetti with Tomato and Sausage Sauce recipe will certainly satisfy that craving. I like the use of beef sausage as it adds more flavor to the sauce.

Another classic pasta dish that can be made using spaghetti is carbonara. If creamy is your thing, then this recipe for Spaghetti Carbonara will delight you.

More spaghetti/spaghettini goodness:

Short-cut, extruded noodles

Penne alla Vodka

Penne alla Vodka

Pasta also comes in shorter form, some of them not necessarily straight. You’ll recognize penne and penne rigate. The difference? The latter has ridged sides. Then there’s the ubiquitous elbow-shaped macaroni. Who has not had a craving for some good old mac and cheese?

Wondering what you can do with penne? This Penne alla Vodka recipe will catch your interest any day. The dish does not call for any meat, so if you are looking for something heartier, this recipe for Penne Rigate with Sweet-and-Spicy Picadillo will suit you better.

Penne also goes well with seafood, vegetables, and of course, cheese. For the seafood lover, why not try penne with salmon? Here’s a recipe for Penne with Salmon and Asparagus and another recipe for Penne with Shrimp.

Other dishes you can make using penne and macaroni:

Salisbury Steak with Gemelli

Salisbury Steak with Gemelli

Fusilli is a type of pasta in this group that has a more interesting shape. Some just call this pasta “spirals”. There are other variations of fusilli, including spirali, gemelli, and spiralini, among others. This recipe for Salisbury Steak with Gemelli looks particularly interesting. Another thing that will satisfy even huge appetites is this Philly Cheesesteak Pasta recipe.

For something light and easy to make, Fusilli with Tomatoes & Mozzarella is a perfect choice. Alternatively, you can go for Fire-Roasted Tomatoes with Gemelli Pasta.

Here are other dishes that you can play around with.

Ribbon-cut noodles

Peppered Bacon and Tomato Linguine

Peppered Bacon and Tomato Linguine

For sure, you have used at least one of these ribbon-cut noodles. Think fettucine. Think linguine. Think lasagna. Think tagliatelle. There are so many more kinds of ribbon-cut noodles but even with these four alone, you’ll have tons of dishes to experiment with.

For starters, try this Peppered Bacon and Tomato Linguine recipe. In merely 15 minutes, you have a meal ready for six people! Another really easy dish is Shrimp Fettucine Alfredo. I don’t have to tell you that this is always a winner. And of course, lasagna has to be included. Try this Miracle Lasagna recipe, which is so easy you might be surprised.

When you want ribbon-cut noodles:

Stuffed noodles

Mozzarella and Pepperoni Tortelloni Bake

Mozzarella and Pepperoni Tortelloni Bake

Pasta can be a lot of fun, especially when you use stuffed noodles. In this group, tortellini (ring-shaped) is perhaps the most popular. There are also other kinds such as tortelloni (round or rectangular) and cannelloni (rolls).

For an easy introduction to stuffed noodles, here is a recipe for Mozzarella and Pepperoni Tortelloni Bake. Not only is it easy to make, but we also know how the combination of mozzarella and pepperoni never fails!

I love cannelloni simply because you can stuff it with practically anything you want. For example, this Italian Baked Cannelloni recipe will take care of the rumbling stomach in no time.

Now if you like soup, you’ll be happy with lots of tortellini soup recipes. Try this Cheese Tortellini Soup with Shrimp.

Here are more recipes with wonderful stuffed pasta.

What kind of pasta is on your plate?

Those are only some of the kinds of pasta that you can use in your cooking. If you need more information and would like to expand your repertoire, check out the infographic below. Make sure you click on the image to see all the details. And I don’t blame you if you don’t remember all the different kinds of pasta!

What kind of pasta is on my plate?
What kind of pasta is on your plate? by Charming Italy

Pasta Variety Image via ZakVTA


  1. I like pasta. Even if it is green

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