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It's National Pasta Day

Celebrate National Pasta Month this October! <a href="http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20111004/MM79986">Click …Ravioli, tortellini, spaghetti, penne:  Pasta takes many shapes and sizes.  Do you have a favorite?

Sometimes, I’ll see a type of pasta or sauce on a menu (written in Italian) and wonder, “What is that?”

Below I’ve decoded a few of the mysterious pasta shapes or sauces you’ve seen before but have been afraid to ask.

Agnolotti:  These are half-moon shaped pasta that look like ravioli.  They come from the Piedmont region of Italy and can be filled with cheese or meat.

Bolognese:  This tomato based sauce is made with ground meat and pancetta.  It has a soffritto base made with celery, carrots and onions that are cooked in olive oil or butter.

Bucatini: Long and thin like spaghetti, bucatini look like straws made out of pasta.  This pasta is usually served in Rome “alla amatriciana.”  This simple sauce is made with pork, tomato and pecorino cheese.

Cannelloni: Often confused with manicotti, cannelloni are pre-formed tubes that are stuffed with a meat or cheese filling, topped with sauce, and then baked.

Carbonara:  This delicious and decadent cream based sauce is usually made with pancetta, cheese, eggs and pork.  It’s often tossed with spaghetti, rigatoni or bucatini.

Genovese:  What we know as pesto sauce, genovese type sauces are not cooked. Typically made with basil, garlic, olive oi and pine nuts, many chefs have been substituting nuts or herbs to create different variations.

Pastina: Meaning “little pasta,” pastina is the smallest pasta form made.  It is shaped as tiny little stars and is often used in soups.

Puttanesca:  This southern italian sauce is a spicy and salty dish made with olives, capers, anchovies, chili peppers, tomatoes and garlic.

Ragu: A ragu is any meat-based sauce.  A bolognese sauce is an example of a ragu.

Tagliatelle: Commonly served with Bolognese sauce, tagliatelle are a much longer and wider version of fettuccine.

Celebrate National Pasta Day with your favorite bowl of pasta.  Try Mario Batali’s recipe for Spaghetti Alla Carbonara.

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