Tubular pasta is pasta formed into a hollow tube, as opposed to being solid, such as spaghetti or linguine. The tubes can be long or tiny, made from durum flour or semolina, made with or without eggs. They can be put in soups, stews, boiled, stuffed, baked or boiled briefly and served with tomato sauce, meat sauce, pesto sauce, cream sauce or just about any sauce.
Bucatini are spaghetti-like pasta that are thicker than spaghetti but have a thin hole down the centre. Bucatini can be ridged or not. Candele are long, hollow tubes that are the length of candles. Ziti is a long, thi,n tubular pasta which is often ridged. Since the word in Italian vernacular for bridegroom is ziti, baked ziti is traditionally served at wedding banquets in Campania and Sicily.
Pasta for Soups
Anellini are tiny rings of pasta for soup. Ditalini or little thimbles, are tiny, short pasta tubes from Campania. They're traditionally used in pasta e fagioli, minestrone and plain broth. Corallini pasta is tiny, tubed pasta used in soups and casseroles. Ditali are large, pasta tubes used for soups.
Pasta for Al Forno (Baked)
Elbow macaroni is a short, curved semicircular tube of macaroni and the most popular type used in macaroni and cheese and macaroni salad. It's also used in entrées, salads, soups and baked dishes. Manicotti are large, tube-shaped noodles about 4 inches long and 1 inch in diameter. They're boiled, stuffed with meat or cheese, covered with sauce and baked. Penne means "quills." They're large, straight tubes cut on the bias and can be ridged or not. Penne goes with most sauces and is excellent in oven-baked dishes. Penne rigate is penne with ridges -- the ridges help the pasta hold the sauce. Rigatoni is a large, ridged, slightly curved, tube pasta with square cut ends, as opposed to the diagonally cut penne. It's good for meat sauces and cheese sauces because of the grooves that retain the sauce.
Pasta for Sauces
Calamaretti are thick pasta rings cut and dyed with squid ink so they look somewhat like calamari or squid. It's usually made only around Naples. Garganelli pasta are curly pasta that can come with or without ridges. Sometimes, the ridges are horizontal, not vertical. Paccheri are large, unridged rigatoni-style, tubular pasta that's also made only around Naples. It goes with everything from cream sauces to chunky vegetable sauces. Mezzipacchieri are half the length of paccheri. Strozzapreti means priest stranglers; it's a twisted, tubular pasta. Tortiglioni are also twisted spiral tubes good with thick tomato or vegetable sauces.