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February 03, 2011

The Geometry of Pasta

Celia Sin-Tien Cheng

If you are a pasta fiend like I am, you’ll love The Geometry of Pasta. I continue to find inspiration in this cookbook’s more than 100 recipes. I love learning about pasta shapes that I’m not familiar with and expanding my pasta-making repertoire.

The Geometry of Pasta is graphically delectable. For each pasta shape introduced, a stunning black and white illustration accompanies the description and corresponding recipe.

The book really hit home when I found a recipe for Hawaiian macaroni salad!


A modern form, in the shape of a hollow corkscrew (from which the pasta takes its name) or pig’s tail. Cavatappi are not just a gimmick, but are delicious with most sauces designed for smaller tubular pastas, maccheroni and sedanini in particular.

Length: 30mm
Diameter: 5mm
Wall thickness: 1mm

cellentani (whirls)

Macaroni Salad

Serves 3 or 4 as a side dish

200g cavatappi
125ml mayonnaise (storebought)
1/2 carrot, coarsely grated

This is one of the classic components of a Hawaiian buffet — the others being rice, iceberg salad and some sort of meat (teriyaki, sweet and sour, or something). It should be made with ‘macaroni’ (such as maccheroncini), but I like it at least as well with cavatappi. The macaroni component is in some ways like coleslaw, except that almost all the healthy part of slaw (already in a minority) has been removed and replaced with processed starch. Small wonder Hawaii performs so well in Sumo championships

Cook the pasta more than usual (not overcooked, but no longer really al dente), drain and refresh under cold running water, then drain again. Toss with the mayonnaise (the quantity here is the minimum — you can use even more if you dare) and carrot, taste for seasoning and serve.