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A visual guide to every type of pasta

A visual guide to every type of pasta
  • National Pasta Day — a day to celebrate one of the most famous and beloved cuisines of all time — falls on October 17.
  • There are over 50 distinct types of pasta, and even more when you add in all the different size variants.
  • We've compiled a list of the 54 major types of pasta, and some suggestions as to what to pair them with.
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Picture this: You're at an Italian restaurant, ready to eat your favorite food (pasta), but you take a look at the menu and realize ... you've never heard of any of these pastas. Garganelli, fazzoletti, passatelli — whatever happened to a good old mac and cheese?

To help prevent any pasta confusion in your future, we've compiled a visual guide to almost every type of pasta, from anelli to ziti.

Spaghetti translates to "little strings" in Italian. It's perhaps the most famous and beloved pasta worldwide.

Spaghetti translates to "little strings" in Italian. It's perhaps the most famous and beloved pasta worldwide.
Spaghetti. MaraZe/Shutterstock

There are several variations of spaghetti, including spaghetti alla chitarra, spaghettini, and spaghettoni.

Most famously, spaghetti is served with tomato sauce, or with meatballs, but there are plenty of dishes you can make with spaghetti.

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Linguine means "little tongues." It's wider and flatter than spaghetti.

Linguine means "little tongues." It's wider and flatter than spaghetti.
Linguine. SherSor/Shutterstock

Other names and variations include bavettine, bavette fini, radichini, trenette, and linguettine. Linguine is typically served with pesto.

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Fettuccine translates to "little ribbons." It's flatter than linguine.

Fettuccine translates to "little ribbons." It's flatter than linguine.
Fettuccine. Romulo Yanes/Condé Nast/Getty Images

Fettuccine has multiple variations and other names, like lasagnette, fettucce, ramicce, and sagne.

The most famous fettuccine dish is fettuccine Alfredo, which comes with a heavy cream sauce.

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Tagliatelle's name originates from the Italian verb "tagliare," which means to cut. It's similar to fettuccine, but is generally a bit narrower.

Tagliatelle's name originates from the Italian verb "tagliare," which means to cut. It's similar to fettuccine, but is generally a bit narrower.
Tagliatelle. Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Tagliatelle is "excellent for capturing every drop of sauce," and can be served with "meat or Bolognese sauces, as well as garnished with options such as nuts, cheese, tomato and basil," according to Barilla.

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Scialatielli is essentially tagliatelle that's cut into shorter pieces.

Scialatielli is essentially tagliatelle that's cut into shorter pieces.
Scialatelli. Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock

Scialatielli was only invented in the '60s by a chef called Enrico Cosentino, making it one of the most recent types of pasta created.

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Pappardelle's fun name comes from the verb "pappare," which means to "eat with childish joy and pleasure."

Pappardelle's fun name comes from the verb "pappare," which means to "eat with childish joy and pleasure."
Pappardelle. Corina Daniela Obertas/Shutterstock

Pappardelle is the largest of the ribbon-shaped pastas, and according to Barilla works best in a "thick rabbit ragu, but equally [as well in] a slow-cooked meat of any kind."

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Mafaldine is another flat pasta, with wavy edges. It was named after Princess Mafalda of Savoy.

Mafaldine is another flat pasta, with wavy edges. It was named after Princess Mafalda of Savoy.
Mafaldine. Aleksandra Duda/Shutterstock

It's also known as reginette, which means "little queens" — due to its connection to Princess Mafalda.

According to Taste Atlas, mafaldine is good with "game sauces, ragú Napoletano, fish sauces made from seafood or shellfish, and white sauces made from soft cheeses with the addition of ginger, horseradish, or saffron."

There's a similar pasta called tripoline, that's only ridged on one side.

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Capellini, aka angel hair pasta, translates to "thin hair." It's a thin form of spaghetti.

Capellini, aka angel hair pasta, translates to "thin hair." It's a thin form of spaghetti.
Angel hair pasta. Brian Yarvin/Shutterstock

Capellini pairs well with "simple light tomato sauces, broths, consommés, and soups, or in light dairy sauces like parsley crème," Barilla's website states.

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Barbina translates to "little beards" in Italian, and is even thinner than capellini.

Barbina translates to "little beards" in Italian, and is even thinner than capellini.
Barbina. 5PH/Shutterstock

Barbina, or barbine, is commonly sold in this coiled nest-like structure. It's served with a light broth or light sauce.

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Bucatini is another spaghetti-like pasta, though it has a hole in the middle. The word translates to "hollow straws."

Bucatini is another spaghetti-like pasta, though it has a hole in the middle. The word translates to "hollow straws."
Bucatini. Liudmyla Chuhunova/Shutterstock

Bucatini differs from spaghetti in that it's hollow, like a thinner, longer penne-style noodle. The most beloved bucatini dish is bucatini all'amatriciana, named for the Italian town of Amatrice. The key ingredient is guanciale, cured pork cheek.

There's another type of pasta, perciatelli, that is virtually identical to bucatini.

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Bigoli gets its name from how it's made — with a pasta press called a bigolaro.

Bigoli gets its name from how it's made — with a pasta press called a bigolaro.
Bigoli. ChiccoDodiFC/Shutterstock

Bigoli is thicker than spaghetti, and softer too. It's sometimes made with duck eggs.

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The word pici derives from "appiciare," which means "to stick." It's basically fat, hand-rolled spaghetti.

The word pici derives from "appiciare," which means "to stick." It's basically fat, hand-rolled spaghetti.
Pici. gowithstock/Shutterstock

What makes pici special is that every piece is different — no two pieces of pici are the same length or thickness, due to its handmade nature. It can be eaten with almost anything.

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Maccheroni alla molinara translates to "the miller's wife's pasta."

Maccheroni alla molinara translates to "the miller's wife's pasta."
Maccheroni alla molinara. Mark Gail/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Maccheroni alla molinara is another very long, hand-rolled, thick type of noodle — but it gets shaped into loops. In fact, the Washington Post reports that the pieces are originally 5 feet long before they're put together.

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Vermicelli means "little worms" and is longer and thinner than spaghetti.

Vermicelli means "little worms" and is longer and thinner than spaghetti.
Vermicelli. Kritchai7752/Shutterstock

Vermicelli has been adopted by many other cultures' cuisines, like Vietnamese food.

But, in regards to pasta, Pasta Fits recommends topping it "with any sauce," or using it in a salad or stir fry.

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Ravioli is the most famous of the "stuffed pastas." It can be filled with meat or cheese.

Ravioli is the most famous of the "stuffed pastas." It can be filled with meat or cheese.
Ravioli. janosmarton/Shutterstock

The two pieces of pasta are often sealed with a fork, giving the pieces ridges.

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Tortellini is small and ring-shaped, and is stuffed with meat or cheese.

Tortellini is small and ring-shaped, and is stuffed with meat or cheese.
Tortellini. Ivano de Santis/Shutterstock

Tortellini also resemble navels, which gives them the nickname of belly buttons. They're essentially interchangeable with tortelli (larger) or tortelloni (only filled with cheese or vegetables).

Another similarly shaped variety is cappelletti, which means "little hats." They are also usually filled with cheese.

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Caramelle is stuffed and shaped to look like a piece of candy.

Caramelle is stuffed and shaped to look like a piece of candy.
Caramelle. ajborges/Shutterstock

That's where its name comes from too — those caramel candies that all grandparents seem to have. It also comes in plenty of fun colors.

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Passatelli is made from leftover pasta scraps, like breadcrumbs. It's typically served in "brodo," or broth.

Passatelli is made from leftover pasta scraps, like breadcrumbs. It's typically served in "brodo," or broth.
Passatelli. Pierre Navigo/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

The full list of ingredients is "a mixture of bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, eggs, nutmeg and lemon zest."

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The most famous type of macaroni in the US is elbow-shaped, but it comes in various shapes. Classic macaroni is a straight, tube-like shape.

The most famous type of macaroni in the US is elbow-shaped, but it comes in various shapes. Classic macaroni is a straight, tube-like shape.
Macaroni. ShadeDesign/Shutterstock
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Cavatappi is a type of macaroni, but instead the noodles are twisted like their namesake, the corkscrew.

Cavatappi is a type of macaroni, but instead the noodles are twisted like their namesake, the corkscrew.
Cavatappi. Yoyochow23/Shutterstock

Cavatappi is typically used in pasta salad. It's called cellentani.

The longer version is called strozzapreti, which means "strangle the priest."

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Creste di galli gets its name from its shape — it looks like the crest on a rooster.

Creste di galli gets its name from its shape — it looks like the crest on a rooster.
Creste di galli. virtu studio/Shutterstock

Creste di galli also kind of resembles a mohawk, and "possesses ultimate sauce-retention due to it's tubular shape and ruffled edge," according to Pastosa.

There's a similar four-sided variant called quadrefiore.

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Busiate is a type of long macaroni. Its name comes from the Sicilian word "busa," which means reed.

Busiate is a type of long macaroni. Its name comes from the Sicilian word "busa," which means reed.
Busiate. Natalia Aggiato/Shutterstock

Busiate can be prepared by twirling the pasta around a long pin, like a knitting needle, or by wrapping it around a twig.

The most common dish made with busiante is pesto alla trapanese, an antipasto made with red tomato pesto.

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Trofie is the best pasta for pesto.

Trofie is the best pasta for pesto.
Trofie. Marina Bakush/Shutterstock

Maybe it's because it comes from the same region of Italy as basil pesto Genovese, the most well known of all pesto sauces, or maybe it's because the pesto gets caught in the spirals.

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Fusilli is a corkscrew-shaped pasta, but it has a much tighter spiral.

Fusilli is a corkscrew-shaped pasta, but it has a much tighter spiral.
Fusilli. Cristina Ionescu/Shutterstock

Fusilli noodles also resemble springs. The name comes from the word "fuso," or spindle. Fusilli is perfect in cold pasta salads.

Another variation is the radiatori, which looks like a squished fusilli with a ridge along one side.

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Rotini is frequently mislabeled as fusilli in the US, but the two are different. Rotini has external-facing grooves. It means "twists."

Rotini is frequently mislabeled as fusilli in the US, but the two are different. Rotini has external-facing grooves. It means "twists."
Rotini. Narin Eungsuwat/Shutterstock

Rotini is perfect for "light tomato sauces (with or without finely diced vegetables), dairy-based sauces, or oil-based sauces," according to Barilla. It also works well in pasta salad.

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Gemelli, or "twins," is a single S-shaped piece of pasta twisted into a spiral.

Gemelli, or "twins," is a single S-shaped piece of pasta twisted into a spiral.
Gemelli. Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post/Getty Images

It differs from rotini and fusilli in that it looks like a double helix or double corkscrew, though it's still one piece. Barilla also recommends gemelli for pasta salad.

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Farfalle, or bow tie pasta as it's known in the US, means "butterfly." Do you see the resemblance?

 Farfalle, or bow tie pasta as it's known in the US, means "butterfly." Do you see the resemblance?
Farfalle. Ildi Papp/Shutterstock

Barilla recommends putting farfalle in "light sauces with vegetables or fish, dairy-based sauces, simple oil-based sauces, or in pasta salads."

It's also known by the names fiochetti, fiocconi, farfalloni, galla genovese, strichetti, and nocchette.

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Tripolini are similar to farfalle, but have deeper "baskets" at the ends.

Tripolini are similar to farfalle, but have deeper "baskets" at the ends.
Tripolini. AN NGUYEN/Shutterstock

Tripolini is similar to canestrini, which means "little baskets." Its baskets make an "excellent scoop for sauces, especially types of fish and meat ragù in larger sizes, and in smaller ones the texture is delightful in soups and broths."

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Conchiglie means shells, which is the name used by Americans.

Conchiglie means shells, which is the name used by Americans.
Conchiglie. Daila Jansone/Shutterstock

Shells are a good choice for any heavy sauce, since the pocket-esque design helps sauce stay inside. Conchiglie also come in different colors, like black squid ink, or green spinach.

There's a smaller variety called cicioneddos.

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Cavatelli, or "little hollows," look similar to hot dog buns.

 Cavatelli, or "little hollows," look similar to hot dog buns.
Cavatelli. Renee Comet for The Washington Post/Getty Images

Cavatelli is frequently paired with broccoli rabe, or just garlic and broccoli — or you can add ricotta to the dough.

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Campanelle, which loosely means "bell flowers" or "little bells," is a cone-shaped pasta with a ruffled edge.

Campanelle, which loosely means "bell flowers" or "little bells," is a cone-shaped pasta with a ruffled edge.
Campanelle. Valerie Nik/Shutterstock

The hollow center is perfect for catching sauce.

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Ditali, which translates to "thimbles," has many names, like tubettini or magghietti.

Ditali, which translates to "thimbles," has many names, like tubettini or magghietti.
Ditalini. GolubSergei/Shutterstock

Typically, ditalini are as tall as they are wide, and are used commonly throughout Sicily. Frequently, pasta e fagioli, a type of soup made with pasta and beans, is prepared with ditalini.

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Gnocchi are dumpling-shaped, and are made with potatoes.

Gnocchi are dumpling-shaped, and are made with potatoes.
Gnocchi. stockcreations/Shutterstock

Gnocchi is characterized by the ridges on top, which are made with a fork.

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Penne is a hollow type of pasta, named for its pen-like shape.

Penne is a hollow type of pasta, named for its pen-like shape.
Penne. Natalia Pshenichnaya/Shutterstock

Penne can be spotted due to its diagonal holds at each end. Penne is also recommended for heavier sauces and dishes, including the famous penne alla vodka.

Trenne is similar to penne, except its is more triangular.

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Ziti is similar to penne, but has a straight cut at the end, and is normally chopped up before serving.

Ziti is similar to penne, but has a straight cut at the end, and is normally chopped up before serving.
Long ziti. Lyubov Sitnikova/Shutterstock

Ziti means bride and groom, which makes sense as ziti is served at Sicilian wedding feasts. In America, ziti is part of the famous dish, baked ziti.

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Rigatoni's name comes from the Italian word "rigato" which means ridged, or lined. Rigatoni is typically larger than ziti or penne.

Rigatoni's name comes from the Italian word "rigato" which means ridged, or lined. Rigatoni is typically larger than ziti or penne.
Rigatoni. Eddy Buttarelli/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Rigatoni is also cut straight, unlike the diagonal of penne. Rigatoni's ridges make it easier for sauces and cheese to cling on compared to smoother pastas, like ziti.

A classic rigatoni dish is baked rigatoni.

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Tortiglioni is similar to rigatoni, but the grooves spiral around the pasta, instead of straight down.

Tortiglioni is similar to rigatoni, but the grooves spiral around the pasta, instead of straight down.
Tortiglioni. Evgenii Emelianov/Shutterstock

The name comes from the Latin verb "torquere," which means "to twist."

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Pastina, which literally means "little pasta," is the smallest type of pasta available. It comes in different shapes like stelline, pictured below.

Pastina, which literally means "little pasta," is the smallest type of pasta available. It comes in different shapes like stelline, pictured below.
Pastina. Toasted Pictures/Shutterstock

Other varities include corallini, grattini, tempestine, and others. Pastina is normally a component of Italian soups.

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Acini di pepe, which translates to "grains of pepper," is a small bead-like type of pasta.

Acini di pepe, which translates to "grains of pepper," is a small bead-like type of pasta.
Acini di pepe. Romulo Yanes/Condé Nast/Getty Images

Acini di pepe is used in soups, due to its small size. It resembles couscous.

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Orzo, also known as risoni, is Italian for "barley," though the pieces are rice-shaped and sized.

Orzo, also known as risoni, is Italian for "barley," though the pieces are rice-shaped and sized.
Orzo. Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket/Getty Images

Orzo can be made into a pilaf, baked, served alone, or as part of a soup like minestrone, or salad.

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Orecchiette gets its name from its shape — orecchiette means "little ears."

Orecchiette gets its name from its shape — orecchiette means "little ears."
Orecchiette. Mike_O/Shutterstock

Orecchiette have a small dip in middle, making them resemble small ears.

A common dish cooked with orecchiette is orecchiette alle cime di rapa, which is just the pasta and broccoli rabe (aka rapini). Some cookbooks suggest that orecchiete is perfect for vegetable sauces, while others pair them with pork or capers.

A similarly shaped pasta is cencioni, which is a bit bigger and flatter — it resembles a petal.

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Lasagne is, of course, used in lasagna. It's just flat sheets of pasta.

Lasagne is, of course, used in lasagna. It's just flat sheets of pasta.
Lasagne. stockcreations/Shutterstock

Lasagna is made by layering lasagne noodles and different foods, like spinach, beef, tomato sauce, onions, cheese — really anything you can think of.

Lasagne is also one of the oldest pastas in the world, and can be traced back to the ancient Greeks.

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Fazzoletti, which means "handkerchief," is thinner than lasagne.

Fazzoletti, which means "handkerchief," is thinner than lasagne.
Fazzoletti. Alvaro German Vilela/Shutterstock

It also normally has wavy ridges at its ends, unlike lasagne. According to the New York Times, fazzoletti can be served "with nothing more than butter and Parmesan, or a drizzle of garlic-infused olive oil."

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Casarecce look like almost-closed tubes. They're perfect for baked dishes.

Casarecce look like almost-closed tubes. They're perfect for baked dishes.
Casarecce. Asya Nurullina/Shutterstock
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Malloreddus means "fat little calves." It contains saffron and looks similar to casarecce, except with ridges.

Malloreddus means "fat little calves." It contains saffron and looks similar to casarecce, except with ridges.
Malloreddus. Paolo Certo/Shutterstock

"Made from a semolina dough normally colored with a little saffron, these tiny dumplings have an elongated, elegant conch shape that is ridged on the outside to catch sauce," writes the Geometry of Pasta.

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Garganelli is also called maccheroni al pettine. It's a ridged form of pasta that looks like a wrap.

Garganelli is also called maccheroni al pettine. It's a ridged form of pasta that looks like a wrap.
Garganelli. Euripides/Shutterstock

"Typical garganelli pasta recipes include serving it with meat ragu, normally Bolognese or alla salsiccia (with sausage)," writes the Pasta Project.

Garganelli get their name from the word esophagus in Italian, "garganel" — their tube-like shape is similar.

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Fileja is a Calabrese pasta that looks similar to casarecce, but it's hard to find outside of Calabria.

Fileja is a Calabrese pasta that looks similar to casarecce, but it's hard to find outside of Calabria.
Fileja. Ghischeforever/Shutterstock

Fileja looks like an elongated screw, and is "the best Southern Italian pasta for heavy or spicy sauces," according to the Pasta Project. It's one of the few types of pasta that's traditionally made without eggs.

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Cannelloni, or manicotti, is a large and hollow shell typically stuffed with meat or cheese.

Cannelloni, or manicotti, is a large and hollow shell typically stuffed with meat or cheese.
Cannelloni. J. Graham/ClassicStock/Getty Images

Cannelloni and manicotti have a slight difference — cannelloni is smooth, while manicotti has ridges.

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Pipe rigate looks like a snail shell. It's characterized by its two separate ends — one is open wide, the other is almost fully closed.

Pipe rigate looks like a snail shell. It's characterized by its two separate ends — one is open wide, the other is almost fully closed.
Pipe rigate. SunTime/Shutterstock

According to Pasta Fits, it "pairs nicely with chunky, cream- or oil-based sauces."

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Rotelle is known to Americans by another name, wagon wheels. Rotelle means "little wheels."

Rotelle is known to Americans by another name, wagon wheels. Rotelle means "little wheels."
Rotelle. UNYKA/Shutterstock

Barilla calls rotelle the "perfect choice for pasta salad," and also suggests pairing rotelle with "light tomato sauces (with or without finely diced vegetables), dairy-based sauces, or oil-based sauces."

There is a flower-shaped alternative called fiori which — of course — means flower.

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Anelli, which means "little rings," is frequently found in canned soups.

Anelli, which means "little rings," is frequently found in canned soups.
Anelli. Furiarossa/Shutterstock

According to Pasta Fits, "Anelli lovers can celebrate December 11, which is National Noodle Ring Day." Pasta Fits also says Americans frequently find anelli in canned soups, but it is also found in the Italian dish called timballo, which also has meat and cheese.

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Calamarata is another ring-shaped pasta that's named for its resemblance to squid, or calamari.

Calamarata is another ring-shaped pasta that's named for its resemblance to squid, or calamari.
Calamarata. Jiri Hera/Shutterstock

Due to its namesake, it's sometimes dyed black with squid ink, and is frequently served with seafood.

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Foglie d'ulivo means "olive leaves" — see the resemblance?

Foglie d'ulivo means "olive leaves" — see the resemblance?
Foglie d'ulivo. alpenkoch/Shutterstock

Agricola del Sole writes that it "pairs nicely with any sauce, both red and white."

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