What Is Anelli?

Dan Harkins

Suitable for wedding receptions and ordinary dinners alike, the ring-shaped anelli pasta is one of dozens of Italian pasta creations. When made four or five times smaller, this tubular style of pasta is referred to as anellini. Meaning "rings" or "little rings" in Italian, respectively, both are used in pasta dishes and soups that might need a change of pace.

Spinach is an ingredient in some recipes for anelli.
Spinach is an ingredient in some recipes for anelli.

Though ingredients will vary widely across the globe, traditional Italian noodle dough contains simple pantry ingredients like wheat flour, salt, egg, water and perhaps a touch of olive oil. Often, chefs will include a blend of corn and wheat flour in their recipes, or leave out the egg. These doughs also can be infused with other flavors — from garlic to vegetables like spinach. The proper measurements are needed, however, to achieve the proper consistency and flavor. A recipe at the Coquinaria cooking Web site kneads together two eggs with 1 cup (about 220 g) of flour and salt to taste, using water as needed to roll up a malleable ball.

To form the anelli, this noodle dough is fed through a noodle maker. Called extrusion, the dough is forced, like Play-Doh®, through various attachments that can form thin, flat or fat noodles as well as the tubular macaroni. After the dough goes through the attachment for fat or thin macaroni, it is cut into thin ringlets for anelli or anellini. According to the Recipe Tips online ingredient glossary, acceptable substitutions for this ingredient in soups, salads or pasta dishes include the longer tubetti or the fatter ditali pasta.

Manufacturers of anelli pasta are likely to have large pasta machines with attachments that form and slice the dough precisely. At-home chefs are more likely to have a small, counter-top noodle maker that operates with a crank to feed the dough through a roller mechanism or various attachments. Before boiling it up, many chefs will allow the pasta to dry for at least 15 minutes and often overnight to achieve a firm, tender texture.

Anelli and anellini can be found in a range of dishes. Though it is often used in soups and pasta salads, others use it in iconic pasta dinners like anelli siciliani. This recipe, available online at the Mangio Italiano Web site, has a ground veal and pork marinara infused with wine and spices, then blended with al dente anelli and topped with grated cheese and boiled peas. It is then baked as a casserole for a long, half-hour's wait.

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