Some of the pasta varieties available to consumers are spaghetti, fettuccine, cavatelli, orzo and penne. Other popular forms include linguine, rigatoni, rotini, tortellini and ravioli. Traditionally, thicker shapes work better with big, robust flavors, whereas thinner varieties pair nicely with lighter fare.
In addition to spaghetti and linguine, other thin varieties of pasta include vermicelli and angel hair, which go particularly well with seafood preparations, cream and oil-based sauces. Tagliatelle, pappardelle, fettuccine and mafaldine, the thicker stranded forms, often accompany meat and tomato-based sauces, such as ragus or Bolognese. Tubular and cylindrical pastas, such as penne, ziti and rigatoni, frequently come with vegetable preparations, such as pasta primavera, but may also be baked with Italian cheeses, such as classic al forno dishes.
Popular varieties of stuffed pastas include tortellini, ravioli, manicotti and cappelletti, with lasagna being slightly different, as it is layered in alternating patterns with accompanying ingredients. Some of the smaller varieties, particularly orzo and pastini, are commonly used as starch elements in soups, whereas orecchiette, farfalline and bowties work nicely for pasta salads. While elbow macaroni is also useful in salads, it sees applications in a number of other hearty, classic preparations, including American chop suey, stir-fries and macaroni and cheese.