What Is Ziti and How Is It Different from Penne?

Mamma mia, there are a lot of different kinds of pasta! Pasta comes in all shapes and sizes with somewhere between 350 and 600 varieties to choose from, depending on who you’re asking. Every type of pasta was birthed in a particular region and usually for a particular purpose. Those different shapes aren’t just for fun, they’re meant to capture a sauce or flavor in a certain way. Each shape and texture has a story. Today, we’re talkin’ ziti.

What is ziti pasta?  

Ziti are a medium to short-sized tubular shaped pasta. I don’t mean tubular like a Ninja Turtle would say it, but more as in it’s shaped like a tube. Picture a long skinny pasta like spaghetti. Now imagine those noodles are a lot fatter. Now, drill a hole through the middle of those fat boys, cut them into 2-inch-long segments, and you have ziti. So, what does ziti pasta look like? When you buy it in a store, ziti pasta usually looks like short, hollow, pasta with a smooth texture.

Ziti originally hails from Southern Italy, most likely Naples, although Sicily also lays claim to its invention. There, “ziti” translates to “bride” or “betrothed,” and it is traditionally a part of a wedding celebration. You traditionally pair ziti with a chunky or meaty sauce since the tubes capture the sauce. Of course, ziti also goes well with a light tomato sauce or, as many Italian Americans know, it’s also great for baking.

Ziti pasta vs penne

Some of you more observant pasta fans out there may have been shouting this whole time, “Hey! That sounds a lot like penne!?” Yes, ziti is not the only smallish, hollow, tubular (cowabunga, dude!) pasta. Ziti, penne, and rigatoni are all similarly shaped. But these pastas are not the same. Here is how to spot the differences if you encounter them in the wild: Penne is always cut at an angle, whereas the other two have flat ends. Rigatoni is shorter and wider than the others, like me. Also, the outside is always ridged. Our friend ziti is shorter and thicker than the penne, and has a smooth edge. It is occasionally ridged but usually smooth, and comes in boxes that are labeled “ziti.” Okay, I think we are all ready to go out there now and enjoy some pasta responsibly.

About the Author

Will Morgan

Will Morgan, a freelance contributor to Sporked, is an L.A. based writer, actor, and sketch comedy guy. Originally from Houston, TX, he strongly believes in the superiority of breakfast tacos to breakfast burritos. Will traveled the world as one of those people that did yoyo shows at elementary school assemblies, always making a point to find local and regional foods to explore in whatever place he was, even in rinky-dink towns like Tilsonberg, ON. Will spends his birthdays at Benihana’s. Let him know if can make it.

Thoughts? Questions? Complete disagreement? Leave a comment!

Your thoughts.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Would have been a little more useful if you had a picture, or drawing, of the 3 next to each other.