You can easily tell the difference between linguine and spaghetti because linguine, above, is flat. Spaghetti is round. Photo by Sebastian Zurkuhl | Wikimedia.




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Last Updated February 2015

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Pastas

Pasta Glossary ~ Types Of Pasta

Page 4:  Types Of Pasta Beginning With G, I, K & L


This is the best place to learn the types of pasta! If you enjoy this Pasta Glossary, we have a food glossary for almost every category of food,  including Italian favorites like cheese, espresso and olive oil. Plus, find reviews of our favorite brands of pasta and sauces, pasta recipes and informative articles about pasta in our Pasta Section.

Click on a letter to go to the appropriate glossary section.

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Literally, “cocks’ combs,” galletti (gah-LEH-tee) are semicircular tubular pasta with ruffled edges. 

The beautiful galletti at the right are from Castellano, a brand sold at many specialty food stores.


Garganelli (gahr-gahn-NELL-lee) are penne-style egg pasta. They can be found with and without ridges (here, the ridges are horizontal instead of vertical, as on penne rigate).


Photo of garganelli pasta courtesy of
Gemelli (juh-MELL-lee), meaning “twins,” are simply two short strands of round pasta that are twisted together. They are very versatile because they hold the sauce while retaining an al dente texture. They are popular in entrées, side dishes, baked dishes and pasta salads; and pair well with light to moderately-thick tomato sauces and cream sauces.
Photo of gemelli pasta courtesy of

Girasole (GEE-rah-so-LAY) is the Italian word for sunflower. In pasta, the word refers to ravioli made in a sunflower shape. The girasole in the photo, from Nuovo Pasta (a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week), is filled with osso bucco. So, more than the shape is creative and delectable.

  girasole ravioli
Girasole ravioli. Photo by Ryan Clark.
Read our review of Nuovo Pasta, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.

Italian for dumplings, gnocchi (NYO-kee) can be made of flour, semolina, potatoes or sweet potatoes, boiled or baked and served with butter and grated Parmesan cheese or a savory sauce. Eggs or cheese can be added to the dough. Common flavorings include spinach, basil, tomato and saffron (the latter is Sardinian-style). Gnocchi are generally shaped into little balls or ovals. The dough can also be chilled and sliced, then either baked or fried. Gnocchi are usually served as a side dish with meat or poultry. Potato dumplings have been a staple of both northern and southern Italian cooking since the early 19th century. 

Sweet potato gnocchi are from


Pasta filling, sautéed in butter (some people bake them) without the dough. It’s a low-carb way to enjoy the filling without the wrapper (“gnudi,” pronounced NOO-dee, means nude in Italian). A common recipe is ricotta, spinach and Parmesan cheese. The filling is shaped into small, flattened balls. They can be served with marinara sauce, mushroom ragoût, pan-sautéed cherry tomatoes, fresh peas, crispy pancetta or whatever inspires you. You can cook them in herb butter, or sprinkle with fresh herbs. Chef Scott Staples of Seattle’s Restaurant Zoë makes an all-ricotta version with a bit of cream to bind, served in a brown butter-sage sauce with truffle salt, topped with fried sage leaves. Gnudi are referred to as “cousins” of gnocchi because both are dumpling-like, but gnocchi are typically chewy and heavy, and gnudi are delicate pillows.


Specially cut semolina pasta twirls (grah-MEE-nya).


See whole wheat pasta.

Gramigna twirls. Photo courtesy of


Kamut® (kah-MOOT) is the manufacturer and brand name of a Khorasan wheat that is available in the US. Khorasan is an ancient wheat, the grain of which is two times larger than modern wheat. It has a rich, nutty flavor. As produced by Kamut, it’s organic and whole grain—just as it was in the time of the Pharaohs. It’s better for you than modern wheat: higher in protein and many minerals, especially magnesium, selenium and zinc. It has a higher percentage of lipids, which produce more energy in the body than wheat’s carbohydrates. Think of it as high energy wheat, better for athletes and anyone looking for high energy food. Pasta made from Kamut/Khorasan wheat merits your attention. We’ve been serving it up and no one has noticed that it isn’t conventional pasta—whereas we did get complaints from picky eaters about whole other wheat pasta.

  Kamut Pasta
Kamut, an ancient form of wheat, is coming back as better-for-you pasta. Photo courtesy of Eden Organic.



Lasagne, (la-ZAHN-yeh) the plural form of lasagna, originated in the Emilia-Romagna region of north central Italy. The plural form is correct, as there are multiple noodles in the dish. The wide, flat sheets of pasta were originally made by the Romans, who called them laganum. The word comes from lasanum, the Latin word for pot, i.e., the vessel in which this dish was baked. Lasagne later came to refer to the specific layered-type baked dish we know today, with the long flat, pasta sheets alternating with minced meat, cheese and tomatoes. The Romans lacked tomatoes, which originated in Peru and did not come to Italy until the Spanish Conquistadors brought them back from Mexico in the early 16th century.

Lasagne. Photo courtesy Cabot Cheese.

(Even then, the cherry tomato, which was the “original” tomato, was considered houseplant and not eaten until the 18th century.) The modern lasagna noodle is two inches wide, and sometimes has ruffled edges; it can be made with spinach pasta. The most popular cheeses in lasagne recipes are mozzarella and ricotta, and the sauce is often tomato sauce or béchamel.  A proliferation of modern recipes includes vegetable lasagnas, “white” lasagnas and goat cheese lasagnas. If you regularly make lasagne with commercial sheet noodles, try making it with artisanal pasta: The rougher surface helps sauce and other ingredients cling better while constructing the layers.


Wide ribbons of pasta, like lasagna, that are typical of the Puglia region. Instead of being baked in long strips, they are broken into two to three-inch pieces, boiled and served with a substantial sauce. Traditional regional sauces include rabbit ragù and a creamy vegetable sauce of carrots, onions, tomatoes and fresh ricotta.

Bordering the coast in northwestern Italy, Liguria is the third smallest of the Italian regions. It borders France to the west, Piedmont to the north and Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany to the east. It lies on the Ligurian Sea, a part of the Tyrrhenian Sea (the northern Mediterranean Sea). The capital is Genoa, the birthplace of pesto sauce (pesto alla genovese).


Map of Liguria courtesy of Wikipedia.

This pasta is accurately called linguine, its Italian name, but the word became Americanized to linguini. Show you’re a food connoisseur and use the original Italian! Originating in the Liguria region of northern Italy, linguine (lin-GWEE-nay), Italian for “little tongues,” is a narrow, flat version of round spaghetti (it is sometimes referred to as flat spaghetti). It is a narrower version of fettuccine.

Photo courtesy of SXC.

Linguine is often paired with white or red clam sauce, butter and cheese or cream sauces; but it is so versatile that it works with almost any type of pasta sauce. Pesto al Genovese (basil, pine nuts, Pecorino cheese, extra virgin olive oil and garlic) is popularly served with linguini; as is a sauce made of cream, peas and prosciutto.


The most northern central region in Italy, Lombardy lies between the Alps and the Po river valley. It borders the Italian regions of Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna, Veneto and Trentino-South Tyrol, as well as Switzerland. The capital is Milan, the largest city in Italy. Other well-known provinces include Bergamo, Brescia, Como, Cremona, Mantua and Pavia.

Literally “snails,” lumaconi (loo-mah-COE-nee) are giant, basket-shaped shells that are stuffed with cheese and vegetables.

Map of Lombardy courtesy Wikimedia.


A natural antioxidant found in tomatoes. Research suggests that lycopene helps inhibit certain cancers, including prostate cancer and cervical cancer.


Continue To The Next Page: Pasta Terms With M, N & O

Go To The Glossary Alphabet Index Above


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