Penne For Your Thoughts

Two weeks post complicated back surgery (recovery going well), you probably don’t want to know my thoughts. The anesthesia “fog” brain has left my vocabulary somewhat lacking. Each day my hubby asks if we are doing “nouns” today or if I was adding “adjectives” back into my sentences. Luckily I had created and scheduled blogs to run for several weeks after surgery because I knew I wouldn’t be able to cook, and apparently not able to talk or write either. 

As the fog lifts, I’m anxious to get back in the kitchen, cook, and add recipes to the blog. Neither of these will be happening quite yet, but I’m looking forward to the day. In the meantime, I thought an article about pasta shapes was interesting enough to share. The shapes I’ve featured in this blog are only a few of hundreds – some may be more familiar than others. 

A few traditional shapes. Shall we start with Penne?

Penne – Penne is the plural form of the Italian penna, derived from the Latin word penna, and is a cognate of the English word “pen.” The ends of penne pasta are angled like an old-fashioned pen quill. This pasta shape is very versatile and can be served with a simple sauce or as a perfect ingredient for casseroles. 

Linguine – The strands of linguine are thin and flat. The name means “little tongues.” I don’t get this “little tongues” meaning – but love linguine anyway. Also a versatile pasta that pairs well with fish, vegetables, or meats. (Did you notice I’m using adjectives today? Versatile was the only one I could think of though so it may get overused.)

Orecchiette – Small circular pieces of pasta. They look, quite literally, like “small ears.” this is a popular pasta found in the southern regions of Italy (Pulgia) where half of my Italian family is from. When visiting, I loved walking down the old sections of Bari where the women would be sitting outside drying their just-made orecchiette on screens trays. 

A few lesser-known pasta shapes:

Strozzopreti – These noodles resemble a traditional high collar worn by priests and clerics. The name means “priest choker.” I wouldn’t recommend making this pasta if you were hosting the local priest or clergy for dinner. 

Pipe Rigate: This shape has a wide opening at one end and the other end is flattened. A hollow curved pasta that resembles a “snail shell.” If you paired this pasta with clams or oysters, it might create an all-too-realistic sensation of eating the real thing (snails). I’d use a marinara or meat sauce instead. 

Radiatori –  A ruffled, ridged shape pasta. It looks like the grill of a “radiator” and resemble an old industrial heating fixture. They are rumored to be created in the 1960s by an industrial designer, but actually (according to Wikipedia) they existed between the First and Second World War. This shape works well with thicker sauces.

Pasta Art (term used loosely).

And if you’d rather “play” with than cook your pasta, here’s an unusual Pinterest site that shows pasta created into… whatever. Be sure to scroll through the images. Someone had too much time on their hands or is brilliantly creative. You be the judge.


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