Perfect Pasta, Part 2

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Guest contributor Gabriele Corcos and his wife Debi Mazar star in Extra Virgin, Wednesday nights at 10pm ET/ 9pm CT.

Last time, I wrote about how Italians enjoy pasta in all different shapes and sizes, and talked about the various long cuts of pasta. Today I want to tell you about the different short pastas we cook in Tuscany.

Penne, Ditalini, Ziti, Wheels and Fusilli all have a casual feel, and allow for an easier and more relaxed approach than cooking spaghetti. Almost every recipe works well with these cuts—red sauces, vegetable sauces and meats are the most common dressings.

We prepare Shells and Orecchiette in our house with meat sauces, and appreciate the way the sauce collects inside the pasta and gets delivered to your mouth in full, rich bites. Peas and Guanciale is a staple recipe with the "Extra Virgins"—our kids love to count how many peas can fit inside the shells.

Filled pastas are a third type of pasta:

You can purchase Tortellini, Tortelloni and Ravioli at any grocery store. They are filled with various ingredients—cheese, spinach and ricotta, chicken and prosciutto—but the most traditional Tuscan filled pasta is for sure the Tortello di Patate, which is traditionally served with a hearty meat sauce.

Next week on Extra Virgin, I will be cooking Debi Sausage and Radicchio Orecchiette for her birthday—shh! Don't spoil the surprise. It's a nice pasta to cook and share with your family.

Continue reading for my secrets on how to perfectly cook your pasta, whichever shape you choose.

Peace and pasta,

Editor’s note: Watch Gabriele and his wife Debi Mazar cook meals from their home Wednesdays at 10pm ET/ 9pm CT on Cooking Channel.

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More delicious Italian food:

Thanks to for help with pasta pix.

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