The Many Shapes of Italian Pasta

When you think of pasta, do you see the market aisle filled with boxes of dried spaghetti and linguine? Or how about tender, delicate pillows of fresh pasta dough beautifully crafted into countless shapes and sizes? For years, fresh pasta has been significantly more superior in taste and texture than dried and processed boxed pasta. It’s easy to make and even more delicious to enjoy alongside a traditional red sauce and bottle of your favorite Chianti. Before dumping the next box of pasta into a pot of boiling water, why not try making a bowl of fresh pasta taking inspiration from a variety of Italian pasta shapes.
Angel Hair, “Fine Hair”

A cousin to spaghetti, angel hair pasta is a thinner and finer, with a limited ability in holding up to thick, heavy sauces. Due to its reduced size, this delicate pasta is typically served with no more than olive oil and fresh herbs, but can be served alongside a variety of sauces and toppings.

Campanelle, “Small Bells”

In a shape of small bells.

Ditalini, “Little Thimbles”

Ditalini is similarly shaped to macaroni. It is slender and hollow, often used in Italian soups and stews.


Farfalle, “Butterflies”

Available in a variety of colors as a result of added essences such as spinach or beets, Farfalle is a bow tie shaped pasta. The outer edges of this pasta are smooth and straight, or crinkled with a scallop-type edge, and the center is pinched or crimped together in order to form the bow-tie shape. Farfalle is a favorite among children and a creative choice for refreshing summer pasta salads.

Fettuccine, “Small Ribbons”

Similar to spaghetti pasta, fettuccine is wider and slender like a ribbon. Fettuccine holds its shape beautifully under heavy meat or cream-based sauces. Alfredo sauce, a luxurious blend of cream and Parmesan cheese, is the most famous sauce to adorn fettuccine pasta.

Fusilli, “Twisted Spaghetti”

This long cylindrical, corkscrew shaped pasta is used in a variety of Italian cuisine. As the hollow fusilli cooks, the shape of the pasta expands to large than when dry and uncooked.


Used almost exclusively in the Italian classic pasta, meat and cheese dish, lasagna is thin, flat pasta. Lasagna edges may be straight and flat or rippled.

Macaroni, “Dumpling”

Macaroni is also commonly referred to as “elbow” shaped pasta. It is a hollow tube made in a variety of sizes.

Manicotti, “Small Muffs”

In the shape of a tube or cylinder, manicotti is most often prepared stuffed with ricotta cheese, then topped with red sauce before being baked to a cheesy, golden brown.

Orecchiette, “Small ears”

In a shape of a small ear. The most famous are from Bari, it is a coarse surfice pasta that absorbs better the sauce.




Orzo, “Barley”

Orzo is very similar in size and texture to rice. This grain-shaped pasta is traditionally used in soups and stews but is delicious in summer salads with vegetables and a light pesto sauce.

Penne or Mostaccioli, “Quills” or “Small Mustaches”

Penne or Mostaccioli pasta is long and tube-shaped, traditionally paired with meaty, thick sauces. Most penne pasta is cut on the bias and contains ridges believed by many to aid in the adherence of sauces to the pasta.


This small square-shaped pasta dough can be stuffed with an endless array of fillings. Ravioli is one of the few types of pasta that must be prepared using fresh pasta dough because of the need to adhere two pieces of ravioli together during assembly and cooking.

Rigatoni, “Large Grooved”

Rigatoni is simply a larger version of the tubular-shaped penne, but wider and with straight ends.


Likely the most popular shape, spaghetti is long, thin and slender pasta classically used in what most people call spaghetti. Dried and fresh spaghetti is traditionally made from Durham wheat flour.



This pasta is similar to ravioli in that it is stuffed pasta. Tortellini is stuffed with a variety of ingredients such as cheese, meat or cooked vegetables, then folded and rolled into a doughnut shape.

Ziti, “Bridegrooms”

Shaped very similar to penne, ziti is long and tube-shaped, but slightly curved with a smooth surface.

Real Italian Food: For Americans Traveling to Italy for the First Time

In New York City and in also my area of Washington DC, there are few real Italian restaurants. My subjective, but experienced, opinion is that 90% of the Italian restaurants in the US are not Italian at all. If “Italian food” conjures up thoughts of Italian American restaurant chains or pizza with a red-purple sauce and lots of garlic powder this is simply not Italian! I personally hate that type of cooking -Italian American food is loaded with too many strange tasting “additives”. One might even call them “addictives” because these strong flavors cultivate consumer taste for heavy style foods, to the detriment of the much more delicate and healthier authentic Italian cooking. As an example of this altered taste are things like Italian dressing – Italian style bread crumbs – Italian seasoning are all things with ‘oversaturated’ flavors that you will never find in Italy .

In the minds of many in the US, Italian food continues to be associated with the image of a pretty large guy eating spaghetti with meat-ball sauce – the reality is that in Italy practically no one eats spaghetti with meat ball sauce. Italians do have meat sauce recipes that require long and laborious preparation (including marinating the meat for 3-4 days in aged red wine), but they also have an incredible number of variations of pasta dishes cooked with vegetables or seafood. And when I say pasta, this is not equivalent to only spaghetti.

funny comic italian food

Again there is an amazing range of forms, shapes, sizes of pastas, many of which are unique to specific regions. The variety in the Italian diet, the continued widespread reliance on fresh ingredients cooked on the spot, and the extensive use of vegetables, fruit and olive oil all contribute to the generally healthy state of Italians that on average appear are thinner than Americans, especially in middle and later years. In my opinion, there is a direct relationship between being overweight and heavy consumption of over-processed and fast foods, widespread soda drinking and avoidance of fruits, vegetables and reasonable amounts of wine.

This is not only in the US, but also among younger generations in Italy that love to imitate the American life style. A lot has been written about the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Without going deeper into the matter, I would like to tell you that Italian food – that found in Italy – is not only good for you but it really tastes great! Enjoy the adventure of exploring authentic Italian food, not only a delight for the senses but also an expression of the cultural and traditional heritage of the country.

Sparkling Fresh Fruit Salad

Make your fresh fruit salad sparkle with the addition of bubbly moscato or fruit juice! A simple way to make your summer salad a little more special.Ingredients:

  • 1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped
  • 12 ounces fresh blueberries
  • 6 ounces fresh blackberries
  • 6 kiwi, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bottle sparkling wine or juice, chilled
  • 1 tsp. Angostura orange bitters, optional


  1. Combine the pineapple, berries, and kiwi in a large bowl. In a liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, measure out 2 cups of sparkling wine or juice.
  2. Add the orange bitters to the sparkling wine, if using. Pour the sparkling wine or juice over the fruit and toss to coat.

Japanese Potato Salad

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Japanese Potato Salad and Chicken Karaage Bento

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into large 2 1/2-inch chunks
1 small carrot, peeled
5 inches Japanese cucumber, thinly sliced*
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, plus more to taste
1/8 small red onion, finely chopped
1 large hard-boiled egg, finely chopped
3/4 cup mayonnaise*
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar


1. Put the potatoes, carrot, and a large pinch of fine grain sea salt in a large pot and cover them with cold water. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat and let the potatoes simmer until they are fork tender. Remove the carrot when it is starting to soften, but before it can be pierced through with a bamboo skewer.  Start checking the carrot and potatoes after they’ve been simmering for about 8 minutes. When the potatoes are done, drain them well.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, sprinkle the cucumber slices with 1 teaspoon of fine grain sea salt, toss, and let them sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then gently squeeze them and drain out the excess cucumber water.

3. Slice the cooled carrots in half lengthwise, then slice each half into thin half-moons. Coarsely mash the potatoes so some small chunks of potato still remain, then let the mash cool.

4. After the potato mash has cooled, stir in the cucumbers, carrots, red onion, and hard-boiled eggs. Gently stir in the mayonnaise and rice wine vinegar. Add additional mayonnaise, if desired. Cover the potato salad with plastic wrap, or place it in an airtight container and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

*Recipe Notes: If you don’t have access to Japanese cucumbers, use a thin-skinned cucumber like a Persian cucumber or small snacking cucumbers. If you only have regular cucumbers, peel them, slice them in half lengthwise and remove the seeds, then thinly slice them. Japanese mayonnaise is typically made with rice vinegar, which gives it a different flavor from American mayonnaise which is made from distilled vinegar or lemon juice. Japanese mayonnaise is also thinner than most American mayonnaise. The most well-known Japanese brand of mayonnaise is Kewpie, sold in plastic squeeze bottles in many Asian markets here in the US. If you can’t find Japanese mayonnaise, you can always make your own!  This potato salad is also delicious with other veggies thrown in, like fresh peas or corn.  Get creative!

Chiles Rellenos with Cherry Tomato Salsa



  • 2 pounds cherry tomatoes
  • 1 jalapeno chili, stemmed and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander ( cilantro)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 12 ancho chilies
  • 1 pound soft goat cheese
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano or 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano


To make the salsa, remove stalks from the tomatoes, then cut them into quarters if they are small and eighths if they are larger. Place with all the other salsa ingredients in a bowl and mix. You can use this right away or set aside for several hours in the refrigerator

Place the ancho chilies in a medium pot, cover with water and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, push the chilies into the water so that they are all submerged and set aside to soften for 15 minutes.

Lift the chilies out of the pot and reserve the liquid. When the chilies are cool enough to handle, pull off the stalks and scoop out the seeds, keeping the chilies whole.

Put the cheese, chives and oregano in a bowl and mash with a fork to mix. Stuff the chilies with the cheese mixture and pinch closed. Arrange the stuffed chilies in a single layer in a steamer basket. Pour enough of the reserved liquid into the steamer to make a 3/4-inch layer (make up with water if necessary). Steam for 15 minutes or until the chilies puff out and are tender. Transfer to a platter and surround with the salsa.

Lentil-Barley Burgers with Fiery Fruit Salsa


Lentil-Barley Burgers with Fiery Fruit Salsa Recipe

1/4 cup finely chopped pineapple
1/4 cup finely chopped mango
1/4 cup finely chopped tomatillo
1/4 cup halved grape tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 serrano chile, minced
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup dried lentils
Cooking spray
1 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup grated carrot
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
3/4 cup cooked pearl barley
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
3 tablespoons canola oil, divided


1. To prepare salsa, combine first 6 ingredients; cover and refrigerate.

2. To prepare burgers, combine 1 1/2 cups water and lentils in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes or until lentils are tender. Drain. Place half of lentils in a large bowl. Place remaining lentils in a food processor; process until smooth. Add processed lentils to whole lentils in bowl.

3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion and carrot; sauté 6 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add tomato paste, cumin, oregano, chili powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add onion mixture to lentils. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, barley, and next 5 ingredients (through egg); stir well. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or until firm.

4. Divide mixture into 8 portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 patties; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil and 4 patties. Serve with salsa.

Mango Passion Fruit Coolatta Upside-Down Cake!


In case you haven’t heard, we are having a little competition to see which kind of Coolatta comes out on top. If you prefer fun and fruity Coolattas, use the hashtag #coolfruit on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram  to enter your vote. If you would rather sip on a cookie-flavored Coolatta, use the hashtag #coolcookie instead. We encourage you to share fun pictures and videos too!

Now, back to this yummy recipe. Even if you’re a cookie lover at heart, our Culinary Team put together a delicious cake recipe that all taste buds can get behind. The Mango Passion Fruit Coolatta Pineapple Upside-Down Cake is perfect for summertime get-togethers. Try adding a scoop of our sister brand Baskin-Robbins’ ice cream or frozen yogurt for an even more indulgent dessert! We recommend the pineapple and passion fruit-flavored Tropical Vacation Frozen Yogurt, or the sweet taste of orange, mango and peach in Greek Sunset Greek Frozen Yogurt!


Mango Passion Fruit Coolatta Pineapple Upside-Down Cake


  • 1 Box of your favorite yellow cake mix
  • 8 oz. of Mango Passion Fruit Coolatta®
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 Stick of butter (melted)
  • 4 Slices of pineapple (rings)
  • 4 Cherries
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine the cake mix, Coolatta®, eggs and butter in a large bowl and beat with a mixer until smooth.

3. In a 9 inch round pan, lay out the pineapple slices and place a cherry in the center of each pineapple ring.

4. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the pineapple rings and then pour the batter over them.

5. Place it in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

6. Let the cake cool then turn it out onto a serving dish with the bottom facing up.

7. Enjoy it with a scoop of Baskin-Robbins ice cream or frozen yogurt!

Garlic Lemon Beans


1 Tbsp Prenzel Lemon Infused Rice Bran Oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
350gm green beans
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 clove garlic – crushed
3 slices proscuitto

Cut the proscuitto into 10cm slices. Grill until crisp. Cook the beans until tender. Fry the garlic (without browning) in the Prenzel Lemon Oil for 2 minutes. Add the beans and cook for a further 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the meat and the pine nuts.

The Flavors of Mexico

Onions and Garlic

Cumin seeds - Visage/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Let’s start with the most common flavors you may find in Mexican food. First there is garlic. It comes fresh, in a jar or in powdered form and is used in many recipes. Salsa, taco seasoning and Spanish rice are just a few recipes that use garlic.

Next is onion which usually comes fresh or powdered. It is commonly used in conjunction with garlic.


Other common flavors are oregano, cumin and chili powder. Mexican oregano gives their dishes a rich earthy flavor. There are other types of oregano such as Mediterranean. You are probably familiar with this version used in Italian cuisine. Oregano pairs well with tomato based dishes and lends an interesting flavor to other recipes.

Cumin has been around since the beginning of history. It’s origin lies somewhere in the Mediterranean but has expanded in popularity because it is easily grown all over the world. It has a toasty yet somewhat bitter taste and gives Mexican dishes a certain flavor that can’t be replaced.

Chile Powder

Chile powder is actually a blend of dried, powdered chiles, cumin and oregano. Other spices are sometimes included in the mix, but those are the key ingredients. It is used primarily for seasoning meats and vegetables but has other uses as well.

Ancho chile powder is another wonderful Mexican flavor. It is almost sweet and has rich dried fruit flavors.

Another chile powder commonly used and gaining popularity outside of Mexico is Chipotle. Actually it a just a jalapeno that has been dried and smoked. Chipotle has a distinctive flavor that goes well in many sauces and salsas. It is also the primary flavor in Adobo, a marinade.

Unusual Flavors

Epazote is one of the lesser known spices. It is used to flavor beans and is supposed to calm any intestinal discomfort beans may cause.

It also goes by “Mexican tea.” It is very pungent and should be used sparingly as it is poisonous in large quantities.

Cinnamon, cloves and anise are also used to add unique dimensions of flavor to Mexican dishes.

Cocoa is used in several dishes to add a very rich warm flavor. Spices combined with small amounts of cocoa and peanut butter are used to make Mole, a thick sauce often served over chicken. Raisins can also be used to flavor certain dishes.

Recipe: Fruity oat bars


11/4 cups butter                                                1/4 cup dark corn syrup

1/4 cup light corn syrup                                 4 teaspoons honey

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar              3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2/3 cup dark raisins                                          1/3 cup golden raisins

1/3 cup dried cranberries                               1/2 cup roughly chopped dried pears

1/2 cup roughly chopped dried apricots   1/2 cup roughly chopped dried dates

4 cups rolled oats                                               3/4 cup sunflower seeds

3 tablespoons sesame seeds                           11/2 tablespoons flax seeds

11/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest,h_416,c_fit,fl_progressive,q_95/v1/img/recipes/18/15/34/pic3Z6M5m.jpg


Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with vegetable oil. Cut a piece of parchment to cover the bottom of the pan and smooth it into place. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Combine the butter, corn syrups, honey, brown sugar and salt in a medium -size saucepan and heat to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally just until the butter is melted and incorporated. Cook for a total of about nine minutes, or until the mixture reaches softball stage.

Meanwhile, toss together the remaining ingredients in a large metal or glass bowl, ensuring they are evenly combined.

Pour the hot sugar mixture into the dried fruit mixture and stir to combine using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and, using a rolling pin, press it down to make it level and of a uniform thickness.

Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake it until the top begins to brown, about 35 minutes. Rotate the tray halfway through baking to ensure even browning.

Remove the pan from the oven, place on a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Using a sharp knife, cut into 16 evenly sized 21/2-by-3-inch bars (about 4 1/2 inches by about 11/2 inches).

Chef’s tip: You may substitute different dried fruits for all or any portion of the mixture suggested above as long as the total combined dried fruit amount remains the same.

Nutrition Facts

Per serving (one bar): 413 calories, 5g protein, 55g carbohydrates, 4.5g fiber, 20g total fat (9.5g saturated fat), 105mg sodium, 38 mg cholesterl

Myth and Fact of Fruits

1) Myth: There is no difference between dried fruit or fresh fruit.

Fact: Dried fruit and fresh fruit both have health-promoting qualities. Dried fruit has moisture removed, and both nutrients and calories are therefore concentrated. Fresh fruit abounds in minerals and vitamin C, a heat-sensitive vitamin, which is often reduced or lost in dried fruit during processing. Fresh fruit contains water, which can help hydrate your body. Dried fruit are good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals and can be preserved longer than fresh fruit, so you can eat it when the fresh fruit is not in season. Dried fruits are denser than fresh fruit, so they have more calories, so control the portion size if you are on a weight reduction plan. Buy plain dried fruits rather than coated with sugar or added preservatives which in turn will degrade the nutritional value. In order to utilise the maximum benefits of fruit, the fruit you choose, whether fresh or dried, should contain the least chemicals and the most nutrients.

2) Myth: Strawberries should be washed and then stored.

Fact: You have heard that berries are cleaner if you wash them first. It’s better to keep them dry and only wash before using. Strawberries have pores so moisture will create bruising or mold. Unwashed strawberries will typically stay fresh for three to seven days after purchase.

3) Myth: Diabetic patients should not consume fruits.

Fact: Having fruits is a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth and get the extra nutrition you’re looking for. Fruits are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber just like vegetables. Fruit contains carbohydrate so you need to count it as part of your meal plan; portion size of the fruit has to be controlled.

4) Myth: Because fruits are low in calories, you can have as many as you like.

Fact: Fruits contain simple sugars and also fair amount of calories. Some fruits are low in calories but still need to be consumed in moderation. Excessive calories always leads to weight gain.

5) Myth: Eating too many fruits can cause diabetes.

Fact: Diabetes is the inability of your pancreas to produce sufficient insulin. It is not determined by the amount of fruits you eat.

6) Myth: Eating fruits at bed time is bad.

Fact: Fruits can be a healthy bedtime snack if you don’t go overboard with them. Reaching for a nutritious piece of fruit is a better than having a higher-calorie snack, but it’s best to keep your serving sizes under control.

7) Myth: Drinking fruit juice is as good as whole fruit.

Fact: Fruit has more fiber, fewer calories, and more phytonutrients than juice. There are certain things lacking in fruit juice that exist in the whole fruit, namely fruit skin, which is loaded with antioxidants like flavonoids, and fruit pulp, which is the main source of fruit fiber. In addition, a fruit juice may contain added sugar, colour, or preservatives, which are not healthy .You are better off eating a piece of fruit than drinking a glass of juice.

8) Myth: Fruit bars are equivalents to whole fruits.

Fact: Fruit bars are processed with added sugar and have more calories, compared to fresh fruits. Fruit bars do not have fibre of a whole fruit .So having whole fruits is always better.

9) Myth: Some fruits are healthier than others.

Fact: Each fruit has its own health benefits. Fruits are packed with nutrients and are delicious. The best way to make sure you get the full range of all these beneficial compounds is to eat a variety of fruit rather than just a particular one.

Spiralized Singapore noodles

Spiralized Singapore noodles


  • 1 large mooli (daikon radish), 2 courgettes or 3 carrots
  • 2 tsp coconut oil, or vegetable oil
  • thumb-sized piece ginger, chopped
  • 1 fat red chilli, ½ finely chopped, ½ thinly sliced into rings
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, crushed
  • 6 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1½ tbsp curry powder
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp teriyaki sauce
  • 150g pack raw prawns, roughly chopped
  • 100g cooked ham, shredded
  • 2 large handfuls beansprouts
  • coriander, to serve
  • lime wedges, to serve


  1. Use a spiralizer or julienne peeler to create vegetable noodles – use the large noodle attachment. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a wok over a high heat. When hot add the ginger, chopped chilli, garlic and spring onions, stir-fry for 30 secs-1 min until just softened. Add the curry powder, soy sauce, teriyaki, prawns and ham and cook for another 2 mins, until the prawns turn pink.
  3. Add the vegetable noodles and beansprouts, stir around the pan for 1 min more until the noodles have softened a little but still have a nice bite – don’t cook for too long or they will turn watery. Serve scattered with coriander and the sliced chilli, with lime wedges on the side.

World’s Tallest Pancake Stack

Pancake Stack
In a bid to celebrate Pancake Day in the only way they know how, staff from TV channel Food Network UK have created the world’s tallest stack of pancakes. And why not.

The impressive pancake tower took over 13 hours to produce and required a whopping 253 eggs, 11lbs of flour and over 26 pints of milk.

After the hours of hard work they were lest with 725 pancakes which were stacked into a 32 inch high tower to break the current record.

Should you fancy setting pancake-based record yourself when you get home, the highest pancake flip currently stands at 9.17m, the largest pancake measured 15m long and the most pancakes eaten in 1 hour by an individual is 855. Good luck.

Nick Thorogood, of Food Network UK said: “One of the greatest aspects of British Food is its tradition and the celebration of events such as Pancake Day.

“We wanted to celebrate this year’s Pancake Day with something a little different and what better way than to create a giant stack of pancakes!

“Needless to say the team at the Food Network UK headquarters are going to have their fill by the end of the day!”