Shaping short pasta

Shaping short pasta

Pasta corta

Laura Edwards

Short pasta includes shapes such as farfalle, fusilli and garganelli, which are cut and formed from flattened, rolled-out dough, but also shapes such as orecchiette and gnocchetti sardi, which are made by shaping balls of pasta with your fingers. Garganelli, which are made by hand, can be substituted for penne, which obviously can only be made by machine. The very simplest short pasta shape, gnocchi, is made from simply slicing a sausage-like length of pasta dough. To make any short pasta shape ribbed, simply roll it against a butter-pat or other similar ridged surface – the tines of a fork are useful as well!

Please take on board that homemade short pasta will never look like the machined perfection of shop-bought.


Quantity Ingredient
Fresh egg pasta


  1. Step by step, rolling-pin-rolled dough

    Start with a flattened or rolled-out piece of pasta dough of about 1mm thick. Trim the edges of the dough with a plain or serrated wheel. Divide the dough into two oblongs roughly 12 x 36cm. Next, divide the two oblongs into neat squares of pasta of approximately 6 x 6cm.
  2. Farfalle

    Divide your squares into halves to form oblongs using a knife or serrated pastry wheel. To form the bow or butterfly shape, pinch the oblong of dough in the centre.
  3. Fusilli

    Cut the 6cm square into four long strips. Firmly twine a strip of pasta on to a thickish knitting needle to form a spiral. Take out the needle and leave the fusilli to dry. (Commercial fusilli are extruded in many different ways: some are rolled round a needle, some are used flat.) You could also roll the strips of dough by hand into little sausage shapes before wrapping them round the needle.
  4. Maltagliati

    Take a large oblong of pasta and cut it arbitrarily using a plain pastry wheel.
  5. Quadrucci

    These are flat squares of pasta. Roll out the pasta dough, by hand or machine, to as thin as possible. Cut into bands 2cm wide, as if making pappardelle. Put one band on top of each other, using a little flour in between layers to prevent sticking. Cut now through the layers into 2cm squares.
  6. Garganelli

    Take a 6cm square of pasta, moisten one side with water and roll firmly, and at a slight angle, around the end of a wooden spoon. Then roll over a ridged butter-pat, before removing the spoon handle.
  7. Brandelli

    The simplest pasta shape ever, and one that I invented. Just tear a piece of rolled-out dough at random to form uneven pieces. (Brandelli means ‘in tatters’! Other similar shapes are stracci or mandilli de sea.)
  8. Step by step, hand-rolled dough

    These pastas involve taking pieces of dough to form shapes by hand, without the use of a rolling pin.
  9. Trofie

    Roll out a small piece of dough into a sausage shape of around 3mm in diameter. Cut into 3–4cm lengths. Roll these lengths between your hands on your work surface until extended a bit, then twist the ends in different directions to get an uneven spiral.
  10. Orecchiete

    Roll out a piece of dough into a sausage shape of around 1cm in diameter and 30cm in length. Cut the length of dough into small 1cm pieces, then form each into an even ball. To make the orecchiette, press on the ball of dough with your thumb, at the same time pushing it away from you slightly so that the dough curls into a shell, or ear, shape.
  11. Gnoccheti sardi/malloredus

    Make a small sausage of pasta of about 2.5cm in length. Press the pasta on to a ridged butter-pat. Press and push it firmly to form a small ridged sausage.
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