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Types Of Pasta

Updated on October 22, 2011

Pasta is an Italian food made of flour and water and may or may not include eggs. Pasta is boiled and mixed with different sauces before consumption.

It is a symbol of Italian cuisine. They are available in a large variety of different shapes and colors but majorly there are two types of pasta:

  • Fresh pasta
  • Dried pasta

Fresh Pasta

Fresh pasta is the home made pasta which is made of flour and water; eggs might or might not be present.

In Italy where the pasta is consumed as a common day to day food, fresh pasta is more commonly and preferably used. Fresh pasta is soft and very easy cook.

Fresh Pasta
Fresh Pasta

The storage time for these pastas are however less. They should be cooked as soon as they are made or at maximum can be stored for 2-3 days in refrigerator.

Since they have high water content they can not be stored outside refrigerator as they may desiccate.

Fresh pastas are soft and light and they go best with light tomato and cream sauces along with herbs.

The best thing about fresh pastas is that not only they taste better, they are light and can be made using various varieties of flour as they are made home. The only drawback is that they do not swell much.

Dried Pasta
Dried Pasta
Linguine Pasta
Linguine Pasta

Dried Pasta

Dried pasta is the factory made pasta made of semolina flour, salt and water and does not contain eggs.

The dried pasta is dried completely before packing and is sold at markets in closed packs.

The dried pasta is less delicate as compared to fresh pasta and takes a longer time to boil.

It also swells more than the fresh pasta; in fact it grows 50% more in volume than the fresh pasta.

This type of pasta goes well with almost all types of sauces.

Since it is dried, it has a long storage time and they can be kept in packets for months.

The dried and the fresh pasta are then of two types:

  • Long form pasta
  • Short form pasta

Long Form Pasta

The long form pasta as the name suggests is the pasta which is stretched and long. It can be cylindrical which can be swirled around the fork or it can be flat and thin. There are two forms of long pasta:

  • Long Strand Pasta: These are long and cylindrical for example spaghetti, noodles, angel hair and bucatini
  • Ribbon Pasta: This long pasta is flat, thin, broad and long. It is cooked in layers. Examples include: lasagna, fettuccine and linguine.


Short Form Pasta

The short pasta is small in size and is more diverse than the long form pasta. There are hundreds of different varieties of short pasta present in various shapes and colors. They can be extremely tiny as risotto or medium sized like macaroni or jumbo like penne.

Four major categories of short form pasta are:

  • Tubular Pasta: This pasta includes medium to large sized simple and straight or diagonally cut pasta. For example: manicotti, penne and rigatoni.
  • Shaped Pasta: This includes pasta which is shaped fancily in various shapes such as bow ties, wagon wheels etc. Examples include: farfalle, fusilli and ruote.
  • Stuffed Pasta: In this pasta the sauce is stuffed inside the pasta which is pocket like. Examples include: ravioli, tortellini, agnolotti and mezzelune.
  • Dot Pasta/ Risottos: These are extremely short pasta. They swell and look like tiny dots on boiling. They go best with heavy cream sauces.

The above mentioned are the major categories of pastas. Under these categories there are hundreds of different varieties of pasta differing in their shapes, colors, sizes and flour composition.

Let’s take a look at some famous varieties of pasta:

Cooked spaghetti
Cooked spaghetti


Spaghetti is perhaps the oldest and the most popular pasta variety.

It consists of long, thin and round strands of pasta. They go best with tomato and meat sauces.

However for good spaghetti one must put a lot of oil in them as they can stick together, specially the dried spaghetti. The fresh spaghetti is very delicate.


Ravioli are the most famous stuffed pasta. They are square in shape and have slightly ruffled edges. The most famous ravioli recipe is spinach ravioli.



These are diagonally cut short form pastas. They are wider and longer as compared to other short pastas. They go best with salads and light, dry sauces. They also taste good in creamy sauces.


These are flat ribbon pastas made in layers. They are very popular. A typical lasagna recipe consists of minced meat, tomato sauce, vegetables and a lot of cheese.


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