The 3D Pasta Shapes You Gotta See

Move over, orecchiette. The Barilla pasta company announced the winners of the Barilla 3D pasta printing contest, and the results are worthy of your Prego. The contest, which ran from Aug. 20 to Oct. 20, sought out the best designs for 3D pasta printing, which I am hoping is an affordable reality sooner rather than later.

Pasta people will tell you that there are certain types of sauces that pair with specific shapes. Spaghetti with seafood sauces. Penne with baked cheese. But what pairs with a rose shaped pasta? That might be a new culinary exploration, and I for one volunteer myself to be the Christopher Columbus.

Barilla announced three contest winners out of the 216 design concepts submitted in the contest. Over 20 countries participated in the contest, and in maybe the most unsurprising news that has ever existed, Italy had some of the highest rates of participation. The results were beautiful printable pastas that almost look too good to eat. But not really, because I've never met a pasta I couldn't consume with gusto.

Barilla announced in January that it and a Dutch company were working together to create a pasta printer, which may make the hard-working Italians of yesteryear cringe, but makes my heart skip a beat. And this contest was the perfect hype.

It's good to see Barilla focusing on something delicious rather than discriminatory. Last year, the company's chairman said gay couples would never be featured in the pasta's advertisements. Basically, the message was: If you're gay and you don't like it, don't eat it (and yes, this was 2013). A bit of good news? After the backlash Barilla completely deserved, the company managed to turn around its policies and receive a perfect score from Human Rights Campaign, which rates companies on LGBT-friendliness.

Back to the sauce issue; I know these new designs need some tasty toppings that match their visual appeal. I've cooked up a few ideas on what to do with crazy-shaped pasta. Again, I'm no expert, but this is what I would NOMinate.

Rosa Pasta

Designed by French industrial designer Loris Tupin, this rose-shaped pasta blooms when it is placed in boiling water. Pasta with a lot of twists needs something smooth that will cling to it. It'd kind of ruin the whole romance shtick if your rose had a hunk of meat lodged in the petals. So I think a nice sun dried tomato pesto would give the little buds a nice red coloring. Topping it with parsley would make for a nice rosy meal. OK, I'm done. I promise.


Italian product designers Danilo Spiga and Luis Fraguarda based their creation on a vortex pattern progression system, but it gets me less hyped about science and more starving. It kind of looks like a tiny Christmas tree, and I think that, just like the original, there should be surprises underneath. I think a chunky meat sauce would work well here, and hopefully meat or cheese would nestle into the dome.


Italian product designer Alessandro Carabini's "Lune" is by far my favorite, mostly because I am very ready to fill it with cheese. Now the moon isn't just made of cheese, but will be filled with it. You could pipe in a mixture of ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmigiano-Reggiano, pop open a bottle of wine, and put on Frank Sinatra's "Fly Me To the Moon." Now die happy.

Images: Barilla