11/01/2011 05:52 pm ET | Updated Aug 31, 2012

Pasta Primer: Your Guide to Shape and Size

We love pasta for its versatility and many shapes. And who doesn't? A meal of pasta is comforting, filling, and perfect for a family dinner. Pasta has been around for centuries, but most shapes only came about during industrial times with the advent of machinery to produce it. Any pasta shape can be made by machine, but the best tasting pasta has always been made fresh from scratch by nonna herself. But without grandma's help, many pasta shapes are available dried and fresh in the supermarkets, making your dinner planning even easier.

This primer shows you many of the most popular pasta shapes, their regional origins, and the best type of sauce to use. Some pastas like spaghetti work best with tomato sauces, whereas others like fusilli are made for thick or chunky sauces. Look for the classic recipes like bucatini all'Amatriciana, fettuccine alfredo, linguine alle vongole, penne al forno, tortellini en brodo and more.

For more on pasta, see The Geometry of Pasta by Caz Hildebrand and Jacob Kenedy.

Pasta Shapes Gallery