June 16

What is Gigli Pasta? A Comprehensive Guide

Written by: Dolly

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There’s a big, beautiful world out there that contains vast amounts of pasta. So, for those who get a little lost in the details, here’s your comprehensive guide to gigli pasta. 

If you’ve seen gigli pasta in your local grocery store or on your favorite Italian restaurant’s menu, wonder no longer! We’ll go over where gigli is from, what it’s made of, and some of the best recipes out there. Pasta lovers unite!

What is Gigli Pasta?

dry-pasta

Gigli pasta is defined by it shape, not necessarily its ingredients. The curves and ruffled edges make this pasta ideal for holding sauces. Each bite will be flavorful and fun; is there anything better? 

Gigli is the pasta of Tuscany, and the name literally translates to “lily.” Fun fact: Florence bears a lily on its coat of arms. This pasta is also called campanelle or riccioli, the former of which means “little bells,” while the latter means “curls.” So, as you can see, there’s a theme here. 

This beautiful pasta pairs deliciously with sauces of all flavors and persuasions. Functional, fun to look at, and holds sauce well? Gigli may just be the pasta king.  


How to Pronounce Gigli Pasta

It’s simple! Try saying “Jelly,” with a slight Italian accent and change the “j” sound at the beginning to a “dj.”  


Gigli Pasta vs Other Pastas

dry-pastas

Gigli pasta is known for its fabulously ruffled shape. Yes, it’s super fun to look at, but it’s functional as well. The unique shape holds more sauce than other kinds of pasta due to its curves and ruffles.

Like all other fresh pasta, gigli contains semolina flour, eggs, and salt. That’s it! Dried pasta that you buy at the store will not contain eggs, since they decrease shelf life. Instead, it is made with durum wheat semolina flour (maybe even farina flour) and water. If you have the option, buy fresh, not dried. Believe me, you’ll taste the difference. 


Gigli Pasta vs Gigli Toscani

There is no difference! Gigli pasta is the same thing as gigli toscani. The word “toscani” simply refers to Tuscany, where gigli originated. As simple as can be. 


How to Make Gigli Pasta

eating-dinner

You can absolutely make gigli pasta at home, but be warned, it’s not for the faint of heart. If you’re a beginner, consider starting with linguini and then working your way up the ranks. And consider investing in a pasta machine, if you don’t already have one. You can always use a rolling pin, but the pasta machine will expedite the process. 

So, without further ado, here’s how to make gigli pasta: 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup SIFTED farina, semolina, or bread flour

  • 1 egg, beaten

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 2 tbsp water (optional)

1. Combine flour, egg, and salt using a fork.

2. If the dough is too dry, you can add a drop of water until it comes together. Do not add too much!

3. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth, approximately 7-8 minutes. 

4. Cover dough and refrigerate for half an hour. 

5. Using a rolling pin, roll out your dough to your desired thickness. 

6. Shape it into a bell/flute, then press the edges to help them curl. 


How Long to Cook Gigli Pasta

For homemade dough – fresh is always better, folks – cook your pasta for 3-4 minutes. Tender and al dente is the way to go!

For dried, store-bought pasta, you want to lengthen the cooking time to about 7-10 minutes. 

Since gigli pieces are small, you can also throw them in a casserole and bake them in the oven. For example, gigli would work great in this Cheesy and Meaty Baked Pasta dish. 


Spicy Gigli Pasta

red-chilis

There are so many ways to kick up the heat factor in any pasta dish. But we’ll stick to the tried-and-true: 

  • Red pepper flakes

  • Chili oil 

  • Chili paste

  • Red chilies

To boil it down, it’s time to stock up on some chili products. Adding red pepper flakes to any dish will elevate the spiciness. Sautéing vegetables or protein in chili oil is another great way to make your dish spicier. You could even add the oil to the sauce! If you’re making a casserole, consider using chili paste as another alternative. 

For example, this Gigli Pasta With Spicy Pork and Fennel Ragu makes good use of dried red chilies.  


Gigli Pasta Recipes

pasta-dish

If you’re ready to get cooking, you’re welcome to try any of the following!

Classic: Gigli Pasta with Bolognese Sauce

This recipe is great for beginners and experts alike. You really can’t go wrong with a classic bolognese sauce!

Mediterranean Twist: Chickpea Spinach Gigli Pasta with Za’atar

The za’atar brings a completely different flavor profile to our beloved gigli pasta. 

Greens: Pesto and Goat Cheese Gigli Pasta with Swiss Chard

This dish features both greens and carbs, so you won’t have to worry about making that side salad. 

Easy Cold Side Dish: Gigli Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is a perfect dish for those hot summer days when you just want something refreshing. 

Authentic Italian: Tordellata with Ragu, Swiss Chard, and Ricotta

This authentic tordellata recipe is truly something else. It’s similar to the goat cheese recipe above, but the ricotta makes it stand out. 

Vegan Option: Gigli with Creamy Tahini Sauce, Charred Asparagus, & Za’atar

For any of my fellow plant-based eaters out there, give this vegan option a shot. You really can’t go wrong with tahini and za’atar, in my opinion. 

That’s a lifetime of pasta right there. 


Where to Buy Gigli Pasta

Gigli Pasta in Little Ceramic Bowl on White Fabric.

Gigli pasta is less common than some of its pasta brethren (spaghetti, anyone?), so sourcing it may prove difficult. If you live in a small town, you might be hard-pressed to find this pasta in stock at your local grocery store. 

If you have a local artisanal shop, Italian restaurant, or pasta maker, they may sell fresh gigli pasta. If not, the following chains carry gigli pasta: 

You can also source gigli pasta online. Try any of the following companies: 


Best Sauce for Gigli Pasta

jars-of-pasta-sauce

Make use of the gigli’s unique shape! With gigli, you can prepare dishes with looser sauces that would normally slip off the pasta. Thicker, more textured sauces are great, but gigli works best with watery sauces. 

Any homemade, tomato-based sauce (blended or cooked down) will pair beautifully with gigli. Same goes for olive oil-based sauces!

If you’re looking for a well-rounded flavor, parmesan and goat cheese have got your back. 


Conclusion

Gigli is a great challenge for any pasta chefs out there, but it still brings the flavor when it’s purchased dried. The shape of it will delight any and all guests as well as hold tons of sauce. It’s a win-win!

If you’re tired of farfalle or spaghetti, go on and give gigli a try. Happy cooking! 

Dolly


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About the author

Dolly is a student at Goldsmiths, University of London and an avid cook. After managing a miniature organic farm for a year, she fell in love with the art of cooking and the taste of homegrown greens. Dolly first became plant-based eight years ago, and she is now a full-blown vegan; her plant-based journey has made her creative and experimental in the kitchen. If she’s not writing or cooking, Dolly can be found on her front porch, strumming her guitar and singing for anyone who will listen.

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