Penne pasta is the tube pasta that most of us are familiar with. There are both ridged and smooth variations of this pasta, and it can be paired with just about any sauce or any dish. The size of the tube makes them a good pick for chunky sauces, but creamy sauces work equally well. Technically speaking, the ridged version of penne is known as penne rigate, although that distinction is often ignored.
Ravioli is the other filling-based pasta, and you can find them in both square and round versions. Like the other filled pastas, these tend to be filled with some combination of vegetables, cheese, meat and seasonings. This pasta works very well with a red sauce or with a cream-based sauce, although they can also be served (as pictured) in a very light sauce. Often the seasoning choice will depend on what the ravioli is stuffed with.
Cavatappi is a little like multiple pieces of elbow pasta joined together. The corkscrew of the pasta is quite fun and it does a good job of capturing sauce. Even though this pasta is pretty easy to find, it isn’t used all that often, and it’s a great way of making a dish stand out. The pasta also works well in macaroni cheese and it offers a good way to make that overused dish just a little bit different.
Depending on your point of view cavatelli can look like hotdog buns or like small seeds. Either way, this pasta is a little unusual and it’s one that you don’t see used all that often. It can be used in the same way as any of the smaller shell pastas and works with most types of sauces.
Ditalini has a great shape. This is yet another tube pasta, but it’s much shorter, which makes it a lot easier to use. The smaller versions of this pasta are often used in minestrone and they are best suited for soups. However, the larger versions can be used like any other tube pasta, especially in recipes with lots of different components.