Campanelle pasta is one of the most beautiful pasta varieties. Each piece has ruffled edges and a conic shape, giving the pasta the appearance of a flower.
Campanelle is an Italian word for small bells or bellflowers. This pasta is called “Riccioli,” which is Italian for curls, or “Gigli,” meaning lilies.
Campanelle pasta can be hard to find, but you can substitute it with other pasta varieties that hold sauce similarly — something springy like Fusilli, stuffed like Fagottini, ruffled like Cascatelli or Farfalle, or with a shallow center like Cavatelli and Orecchiette.
Campanelle Pasta Alternatives
Cascatelli pasta is curved like the letter J and looks like a ruffled waterslide.
It was created in New York by culinary blogger and podcaster Dan Pashman in collaboration with the Sfoglini pasta firm. The pasta was named after the Italian word “cascate,” meaning “waterfall.”
Pashman created it with three factors in mind: “saucability,” referring to how easily the pasta absorbs the sauce, “tooth sinkability,” which refers to how pleasant it is to bite into; and “forkability,” which refers to how simple it is to scrape up with a fork.
Cascatelli goes well with thick sauces, flavorful veggies, and even meat. Since it’s a pasta variety that appeared in 2021, it’s fairly new and only available for purchase from Sfoglini.
Cavatelli originates from the Molise and Puglia regions of Italy. The shape resembles a little shell with ridges. It’s usually eaten with hearty sauces like cream or bechamel.
It’s made of long ropes of dough sliced into 5cm-long pieces. Then, each piece is pressed and rolled with two fingers, curling the pasta and making it longer. Smaller Cavatelli is made by pressing only one finger into each piece, whereas larger ones can be formed with up to three fingers.
These days, you can also find this pasta with grooves or ridges, which makes it even better for collecting sauce.
Fusilli is famous for its curling spirals. The name “Fusilli” comes from the word “fuso,” which means spindle. Originally, a spindle rod was used to spin the pasta strips to make the famous spiral pattern.
Fusilli is frequently served with rich meat and heavy cream sauces since it can collect and hold a lot of sauce. Thanks to its spring-like form, Fusilli is excellent for absorbing various sauces — from basic tomato and cream to thick meat or veggie sauces.
You can even make pasta salad out of it since this pasta can maintain its chewiness and fully absorb the dressing even after cooling.
Farfalle pasta is often referred to as butterfly pasta or bow tie pasta because of its unusual shape. “Farfalle” literally means “butterflies” in Italian.
Farfalle initially appeared in Northern Italy in the 1500s in Emilia-Romagna and Lombardia. The pasta’s unique ruffled edges are created with pinking shears. The butterfly is made by squeezing the center of each rectangle.
It’s commonly used in cold meals like pasta salads with feta and fresh ingredients such as tomatoes, herbs, cucumbers, pepper bells, and olives. You can also eat it with minced garlic and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Fagottini is a delicious pasta that translates to “small bundles” in Italian.
Fagottini are pasta squares formed like a pyramid or a purse with all four sides folded into a single point. They are around the size of ravioli.
This pasta has a variety of fillings, including meats, cheeses, and veggies.
The finest cheese to use for this pasta filling is Italian Romano. You can add thyme and mushrooms to the stuffing to enhance its flavor.
Fettuccini is typically served with sauces such as the cheesy Grana Padano and garlicky Parmigiano-Reggiano. Fagottini can also be served in a variety of broths.
In Italian, orecchiette literally means “small ears.” They are thinner in the center than on the sides, making the pasta soft in the middle and somewhat chewier at the edges. The hollow center is perfect for collecting sauces.
In Puglia, this pasta is usually served with a simple tomato sauce, but it may also be combined with veggies and works well with thick sauces. Broccoli rabe is an authentic orecchiette recipe.
Homemade Campanelle Pasta
If you like Campanelle and won’t settle for anything else, why not try making homemade Campanelle pasta?
You’ll need to make pasta dough with flour and eggs. Once you knead the dough, you can roll it out with a rolling pin and cut it into long narrow ribbons. You then cut the ribbons into squares and fold each square in the shape of a blossoming flower.
If you’re interested, check out this video of a skilled pasta maker explaining how to make Campanelle pasta.
Why Do Pasta Shapes Matter?
There are approximately 600 distinct types of pasta, and each shape has an impact on the flavor of the meal. Certain sauces hold onto specific pasta shapes better than others.
In the early years of Italian cuisine, pasta became the vehicle for fresh vegetables, sauces, and herbs on Italian plates because it was versatile and filling. As pasta flourished worldwide, it began appearing on our plates in various forms and sizes — each one with a particular purpose.
For instance, light oil-based sauces go well with spaghetti or angel hair pasta. Tortiglioni, a denser pasta, goes well with meaty, rich sauces. Round pasta should never leave its one and only — marinara sauce — while flat pasta, like fettuccine, is ideal for creamy white sauces.
Now you have the top Campanelle substitutes at your disposal.
Curved Cascatelli, stuffed Fagottini, shell-like Cavatelli, circular and hollow like Orecchiette, spirally Fusilli, and butterfly-shaped Farfalle — all of them are similar to Campanelle when it comes to texture and sauce-capturing abilities.