Different types of noodles

pastaUntil I moved to the U.S.A. I only knew of spaghetti and macaroni which we either used for bami, spaghetti, macaroni salad or in soup. Imagine my surprise when I saw shelves of what was called “pasta” in the supermarkets. There are so many varieties, from dried to fresh, small to large, and many more possibilities to cook with pasta. Here is a list of the different types of pasta I have personally cooked and their recommended uses.


ANGEL HAIR (capelli d’angelo)
Super thin and fragile; best served with a light broth-based sauce, because a creamy sauce would be to heavy for this pasta.

Up a scale in thickness, can be lightly tossed with olive oil, garlic, and black pepper. Also good in soup.

Spaghetti’s thinner brother; toss with freshly made tomato sauce or use in a soup like minestrone.

Means little string in Italian, even though it’s the thickest. It is the best known pasta of the family, America’s favorite to pair with meatball, fresh, jarred or canned tomato sauce topped with cheese.


Flat type of spaghetti; absorbs sauces well and usually served with seafood sauces.

Wider than linguine; for a richer flavor and softer texture eggs are added to the dough. Perfect pasta to serve with a creamy Alfredo sauce.

Wide and flat noodles with smooth or ruffled edges; fits most casserole dishes for ovenbaking.

Curly or straight, short and flat noodles made with egg yolks. These noodles are usually served for stroganoff, simply tossed with butter and parsley, or cooked in soup. Also comes in a version made with egg whites for low or no cholesterol.


BOW TIE PASTA (Farfalle)
Farfalle actually means butterfly in Italian. They are rectangles pinched in the middle. This small pasta is great for salads.

Tube-shaped pasta with a spinach and ricotta (or other) filling. Finish in the oven with a red or white sauce.

SHELLS (Conchiglie)
Shell-shaped small pasta (Italian pronunciation ‘con-kee-lee-ay’). Good for catching thick sauces and for soup and salads.

Short, curved type macaroni (‘maccheroni’ in Italian), very popular in the U.S. and often served with cheese. Also good in soup or salad.

Penne means ‘quills’ in Italian and refers to straight pasta tubes cut diagonally at the ends. Excellent for salads or ovenbaked dishes.

This is a very popular pasta in South Italy and rigatoni are large, ridged tubes of pasta with squarely cut off ends. Good for meaty sauces.

Small, cheese-, vegetable- or meat-stuffed pasta that is sold fresh or canned and maybe even semi-dried.

Medium thin, smooth or rigged tube pasta. Ziti is great for casseroles with a red sauce.

Asian Noodles

Better known as instant noodle-soup, the noodles are skinny and made with eggs. Quick and easy but plain so you can add anything to complement these noodles.

Round or flat, thin and translucent white noodles made from rice flour and water. Thin rice noodles are also known as chinese vermicelli. There are wider varieties as well.

Made from mung bean starch, these noodles become translucent and slippery when soaked in hot water or cooked. They absorb other flavors cooked together very well. Used in soups or with meat and soy sauce.

WONTON SKINS (dumpling wrappers)
Fresh or frozen round wrappers for meat or vegetable fillings are made with wheat flour. The square wrappers are made from an egg dough for boiling or deep-frying. Usually prepared and steamed for brothy soup.

Sources: Good Housekeeping, Pasta Recipes Made Easy and Wikipedia’s List of Pasta.

Empanadas Argentinas

The Chilean empanada recipe I posted last year generated a lot of interest on this blog which tells me that people like empanadas. I would like to share one from Argentina that I received from Mariana.

There are many varieties and the Argentinian empanada usually has olives, sweet paprika (bellpeppers) and raisins, however, since Mariana tries to please her family she leaves those ingredients out.

Dough discs can be made from scratch, but they can also be found in Latino grocery stores (time saver!). Mariana recommends Argentinian “La Salteña” frozen dough discs which can be both fried or baked. Since we prefer the healthy version, this recipe calls for baking.


1 tbsp oil
EmpanadasArgentina1 pound ground beef (sirloin)
1/2 onion finely chopped
2 tbsp dry oregano
1 tbsp crushed red pepper
1 tbsp ground cumin
salt and pepper
2 roasted peppers, diced
empanada dough discs
3 eggs, hard boiled and sliced
2 tbsp Spanish sweet paprika (optional)
10 green olives, pitted (optional)
1/2 cup seedless raisins (optional)

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the ground meat and chopped onion, saute until slightly browned. Add spices (and raisins), cook until meat is thoroughly cooked. Stir in roasted peppers and let mixture cool off.

Fill empanada discs with meat mixture add one slice of egg (and one olive). Fold and seal the empanada with some water.  Mariana sprinkles a little sugar on her empanadas.  You could whisk an egg and brush on top prior to baking in the oven for  20-30 minutes at 300 degrees.

Buen provecho!

Curry Chicken Surinamese style (Indian)

Growing up in the Surinamese melting pot of cultures, I was exposed to curry dishes from Indian friends during their holidays or at parties. Since we love spicy food, we like any type of curry, but never so much as the Brittons who had a Curry Festival in London this week! They even refer to Chicken Tikka Masala as the “British national dish”.  I hope to visit London one day, if only to taste their curry for comparison’s sake 🙂

Curry chicken with Roti and potatoes
Curry chicken with roti and potatoes

Curry is mostly known in Indian and Thai cooking, but is also used in Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, Iranian, Vietnamese, British and West Indian cuisine. In Suriname we are more familiar with the West Indian style and a very popular dish is roti with curry chicken. The wrap roti originated from Trinidad but is well-known in all of the Caribbean.  (Photo: Thibeault’s Table)

Curry powder is a mix of some basic spices, such as tumeric, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, and can include as many as 20 spices. You can buy this in the Asian or Indian grocery stores or markets.

There are various types of curry, from green to yellow or red to brown, used in different cuisines, but for this curry chicken recipe I am using the yellow curry or masala.


1 whole chicken, cut in small pieces
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 onion sliced
1 tomato or 1 tsp paste
3 tsp curry or masala
2 boullion cubes
black pepper
1 tbsp parsley or celery, finely chopped
1 fresh pepper (optional)
3 tbsp oil
1 cup of water

Rinse the chichen and drain. Heat the oil and add the onion and garlic. Stir frequently, adding the tomato, cubes, curry, and fresh pepper. Mix thoroughly until tomato is almost dissolved. Add the chicken and turn over to cover with curry mix. Add some black pepper and salt if necessary. Lower temperature and cover the pan, cooking the chicken for about 10 minutes before turning it over. The chicken should produce it’s own liquid. If not, add 1/2 cup of water and let it simmer uncovered for another 10 minutes. When the meat is done (30-45 minutes), turn off the heat and sprinkle the parsley or celery on the chicken.

Curry chicken is served with roti (flat bread), vegetables and curry potatoes. You can also eat it with steamed rice.

Enjoy it!

Quick Chinese Cabbage

Chinese cabbageBefore dinner disappeared in our stomach last night, I remembered to take a picture of this super easy and quick vegetable dish.

Chinese cabbage is also known as Nappa and can be found in most grocery stores. Nappa seems to be more stem than leaf, but has a very mild flavor and can be eaten raw or cooked. For this occasion I prepared it Chinese style and I hope you will like it too.


Nappa1 chinese cabbage, cut in strips

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 slice fresh ginger, crushed

3 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp oyster sauce

black pepper

Heat oil in a wok, fry the garlic and ginger and before it gets brown,  add the cabbage. Then add the oyster sauce and black pepper. Quickly stir fry in 5 minutes or less at high heat. Immediately transfer to a serving dish to keep the cabbage crunchy.

Nappa or Chinese cabbage may seem like a lot when freshly cut, but wilts really quick, releasing a lot of moisture when exposed to high heat. That’s why we recommend to cook it in 5 minutes or less.

If you have never cooked Chinese cabbage before because you didn’t know how, there is no excuse anymore. It is really too easy not to try, so go for it!