Radiatore is a type of small, shaped pasta that may not be quite as common as other pastas such as rigatoni or rotini, but can be used in similar applications. It is rounded pasta, somewhat shell-like in shape, but with ruffled ridges running across the outside. This gives it a shape resembling the radiator in a motor vehicle, from which it gets its name. Radiatore is often used for a number of dishes, including those with heavier sauces that can cling to the pasta quite well, and it is commonly used in soups and salads as well.
Italian for “little radiator,” radiatore is quite popular and can be used in many different types of dishes. The shape is not only perfect for clinging to heavy sauces, but can also make it an excellent choice for use in pasta salads, where the dressing can stick to the many crevices of the pasta quite well. Children and adults alike tend to enjoy the pasta's unusual shape. The ridges and ruffled shape can also make it easier to get a fork into it.
Much like other types of pasta, radiatore can be made using a variety of ingredients, though egg and flour are the most common. Vegetable versions can also be found, where dried, ground vegetables are used in place of some of the flour for flavoring and color, and tri-color varieties of radiatore are also quite common. They can, unfortunately, be difficult to find in some areas, but as many grocery stores are expanding the selection of pastas they provide, radiatore has become somewhat more common and popular in many households. If it cannot be found, then similar small, shaped pasta such as rotini or rotelle can be used effectively in its place.
A simple pasta salad using radiatore can be quite delicious and easy to make. The pasta is cooked just like any other pasta in a large pot of boiling water, usually with a small amount of salt added to the water for flavor. Once the pasta is cooked and cooled, it can be added to other ingredients such as chopped broccoli, peppers, and diced onion. Meats such as salami can also be added, as well as small pieces of mozzarella or a similar soft or semi-soft cheese. This is all topped with some type of dressing — Italian dressing is common as is pesto — and tossed together then served chilled.