Short Dried Pasta

Garganelli come from Emilia-Romagna. They are tubular egg pasta shapes that resemble penne, but look more like scrolls than quills because you can clearly see how they have been rolled. This is done on a special tool, called it pettine, that looks like a large comb.

Gnocchi sardi are from Sardinia. They are named after the gnocchi potato dumplings, but are smaller, like little razor shells. Gnocchetti sardi are smaller still, and are mostly used in soups. Malloreddus is another Sardinian name for gnocchi. These shapes are often flavored with saffron and served with traditional meat and vegetable sauces. They are quite chewy in texture.

Orecchiette, or little ears, are from Puglia in the south-east of Italy Always made with durum wheat, they have a chewy texture and are served with the traditional sauces of the region, especially those made with broccoli.

Pizzoccheri are buckwheat noodles from Valtellina in Lombardy, not far from the border with Switzerland. They are thin and flat and usually sold in nests (a nidi) like fettuccine, but they are about half the length. Pizzoccheri are also sometimes cut to make short noodles. Their flavor is nutty, and they go well with the robust flavors of northern Italian cuisine, most famously with cabbage, potatoes and cheese in the baked dish of the same name.

Strozzapreti, which literally translated means priest stranglers, come from Modena. They are said to derive their name from the story of a priest who liked them so much he ate too many and nearly choked to death. In fact, strozzapreti consist of two pieces of pasta twisted or "strangled" together. Other similar twisted shapes are caserecce, fleia and gemelli. The Genoese trofie, although not twisted, are similar, and can be substituted for strozzapreti.

Trofie are from the Ligurian port of Genoa, where it is traditional to serve them with pesto sauce. They are rolls of solid pasta with pointed ends, quite small and dainty. At one time you could only get homemade trofie, but now they are available dried at Italian specialty stores, in which case the shapes are sometimes open along one side rather than solid. They are well worth buying if you want to make an authentic Genoese Tro fie at Pesto.