5@5 - Lesser-known pastas to twirl over
November 4th, 2011
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

When it comes to pastas, we're somewhat of a noodle narrow-minded country. It's the usual suspects over and over again: Spaghetti, macaroni, lasagna, rigatoni, linguine.

Craig Wallen of Spasso Restaurant believes it's high time we came out of our stuffed shells - and is here to expand your horizons by way of carbs. Lots and lots of carbs.

Five Obscure Pastas You Should Know - and Try: Craig Wallen

1. Malloreddus
"Short ridged, dumpling-like pasta made with only flour and water and, usually, saffron. Similar in shape to a classic potato gnocchi but denser with a bit more chew (in a good way). They're classically accompanied by a rich meat ragù but work just as well at home with a lighter seafood-based sauce."

Try it with: Tomato-braised lamb ragù, rosemary and pecorino.

2. Ferratini
"A medium length pasta made traditionally by rolling a piece of dough around a long sewing needle or bicycle spoke, then slid off to leave a small hole running through the center. This pasta is from the Southern regions of Italy and works equally with heartier ragùs or lighter sauces."

Cook it with: Clams, shrimp, leeks, white wine, garlic, chilies and breadcrumbs.

3. Fregola
"The Southern Italian version of couscous, often more irregular in shape but sold in large or small size. Perfect for a tomato-based stew of fish and seafood, as a warm accompaniment under braised lamb."

Stew it with: Shrimp, scallops, mussels, tomato, golden raisins, black olives, mint and fennel.

4. Paccheri
"It's like the biggest rigatoni pasta ever made. Very popular in Southern Italy with various styles of meat ragù or in a baked pasta dishes."

Try it: Baked in a tomato sauce with fried eggplant pieces, basil and mozzarella melted over top.

5. Fazzoletti
"Simple little squares or 'handkerchiefs' of pasta made with eggs and flour. Beautiful with just a simple butter and cheese sauce, pesto or on up to heartier ragù."

Toss it with: Brown butter, sage, roasted butternut squash and shaved pecorino with a light grating of amaretti cookies over top.

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

Previously: 'Five Things You Should Know About Dried Pasta' and 'Missing home cooking? Borrow a grandma'

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Filed under: 5@5 • Think

soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Fiona

    Hey, speak for yourself about being a noodle narrow-minded country. I use a wide range of macaroni (dried pasta) shapes and occasionally make my own pasta. I live in the US, was born here, and I'm not of italian heritage.

    BTW, the macaroni that was shown in the home pad link to this are very common ones....farfalle, fusilli....

    November 4, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
  2. pasta pov

    so i read all of the comments, click and scrolled, closed the window, click and scroll to the next one. DONE. the main article should have photos.

    November 4, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
    • agathokles

      I absolutely agree. Need pictures.

      November 4, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
    • pastini

      Yes, agree...pics would help in understanding the article

      November 4, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
  3. goer

    Malloreddus are Sardinian but we don't really eat that much pasta. Most meat like pork, boar, rabbit and seafood. Potato based dumplings are a better alternative to semolina or regular flour pasta which is high on the glycemic index. Sure, different shapes work well with different sauces, like spaghetti is good with garlic, olive oil and ground chilli pepper, rigatoni are good with tomato sauce, fusilli is good with chunky meat and vegetable sauces, tortellini are meant for broth soups as well as stars, orzo and other small pasta, etc... but it all tastes the same. It's just semolina, water and eggs. Very easy to prepare at home too even with regular flour. Gnocchi are fun to prepare from scratch as well, and you can also use pasta dough you prepare to make pardulas, or stuff the dough with different kinds of fillings and fry them, or just make won-tons with it. Also, the same dough can be used to make your own egg noodles for stir fry and soups. So much better than store bought and it doesn't take long at all.

    November 4, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
  4. Kanageloa

    Who cares as long as it tastes good. Taste and presentation is what it's all about. Lets get over the stupid little games and eat.

    November 4, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
    • agathokles

      But type of pasta DOES affect flavor, because they differ in how they "trap" sauces in the nooks and crannies, and they differ in the sensation of pasta/sauce ratio.

      November 4, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
      • Fiona

        Texture differs, as well. Huge, huge difference between capellini (should be almost fluffy and bouncy) and spaghetti (should be firm and substantial in the mouth), even though they are made with the same dough and both are boiled and sauced.

        November 4, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
  5. PretzelKindaGuy

    I don't get it. Do they taste differently?

    If is just about the shape, why so limited? I bet a pretzel shaped pasta would be very popular here in America.

    November 4, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
  6. Cat

    Photos would have been nice.

    November 4, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
  7. boadicea

    Ya, I wanted to see pictures too. Don't wanna have to click and scroll....

    November 4, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
  8. Don

    gnocchi (sp)..........tortellini

    November 4, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
  9. Jeff

    Click the links people, see the pictures....

    November 4, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  10. beck

    Wow. I clicked on the link on the first one. Looks good. I clicked on the link for the second one, and it wants me to download something first. I'm going to go finish the laundry I'm avoiding. By the way, I adore pasta. CNN, Eatocracy, or whoever is responsible, please don't take a short article and make it a long arduous task to find what we really initially clicked on this for, which is to see what they look like. Leave the links in, but there should be photos on this page. Anyway, for store-bought pasta, we and our 3 kids really like cavatappi. Such a fun shape and pleasant to eat. I know store-bought isn't the focus here, but there you go.

    November 4, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  11. joe

    lol, you could click the links :)

    November 4, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
    • beck

      Yeah, we get that. We see the links. There should still be photos on this page. The content here is not subject to a 24-hour news cycle and should have been held back until photos were available. 5 of the first 8 comments target the absence of photos.

      November 4, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  12. actorsdiet

    pici! why don't more restaurants/stores carry this amazing tuscany pasta?

    November 4, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
    • Guido

      I don't know?

      November 4, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
  13. Yakobi.

    What about the Chef Boyardee pasta shaped like letters?

    November 4, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
  14. Chuck

    This article is worthless without pictures.

    November 4, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • Chris


      November 4, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  15. Indiefab

    If only photographs could be "digitized" so they could be attached to a story such as this. Maybe one day.
    You know who can add pictures to an article? Junior high kids.
    Nice editing, CNN.

    November 4, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  16. Paul

    Pictures on the same page as the article would actually make this not completely useless.

    November 4, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  17. getA Life

    How many pastas do you really "need" to know. I have two spagettios and macaroni are all you need to know unless you are a pasta yuppi.

    November 4, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
    • Nicki

      Guess that makes me a pasta yuppi then :)

      November 4, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
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