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Maniche Pasta: Everything About the Shape

Italy has no shortage when it comes to varieties of tube-shaped pastas. Long tubes, short tubes, ridged tubes, smooth tubes, you name it. But have you heard of maniche?  

Maniche, also called as mezze maniche, is a short, tube-shaped pasta that is said to have come from northern Italy. Size-wise, they are around half the length of your standard rigatoni. Mezze maniche means “short sleeves” or “half sleeves.” 

In this article, we’ll tell you everything there is to know about maniche pasta and provide delicious recipes you can try yourself. Let’s go!

Maniche: Origin and Meaning

Here’s a table with essential facts about maniche: 

Pasta Shape:Maniche
Pasta Type:Tube-shaped Pasta
Length:Around 20 mm (0.8 in)
Width:Around 19 mm (0.75 in)
Origin:Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Meaning:Italian term for “sleeves”
Synonyms:Mezze maniche
Similar Shapes:Rigatoni, Tubetti, Ditalini, Paccheri

Where Did Maniche Originate?

Maniche pasta supposedly comes from an old recipe from Piacenza, a city located in Emilia-Romagna, Italy. Originally called “mezze maniche dei frati,” the recipe says to roll out pasta dough into a rectangle, roll it around a filling, and then cut it into short pieces. The small, filled tubes are then cooked in broth. 

Today, this pasta can be found almost anywhere. The use of tube-shaped pastas is now widespread and you can enjoy them in most countries outside of Italy.  It is said that Italians believe mezze maniche has a summer-like vibe to it because of the name. As a result, they have associated maniche with lighter pasta recipes. 

What Does Maniche Mean?

The word “maniche” directly translates to “sleeves.” Traditionally, this pasta was formed by rolling out the soft dough into tubes, much like cannelloni. Nowadays, maniche is formed by extruding the pasta dough into long tubes and then cutting it into tiny bits. It often has ridges along the outside, much like rigatoni, to ensure better sauce adhesion. 

What Is the Difference Between Maniche and Rigatoni?

Because they look similar, maniche is commonly mistaken for rigatoni. Both are short tube-shaped pastas that come with ridges on the outside, and their uses can often be interchangeable. However, if you really want to know which is which, rigatoni tends to be larger and longer than maniche. 

Both maniche and rigatoni can be enjoyed in similar ways, and choosing between the two all comes down to whichever one you like best!

Traditional Dishes Suitable for Maniche Pasta

Here are some traditional dishes you can make with maniche pasta:

Mezze Maniche Pasta with Zucchini and Prawns

This light, summery dish consists of juicy fresh prawns, sliced zucchini, and a light tomato-based sauce that keeps you cool during the summer. 

Maniche Pasta al Forno 

Although maniche pasta is often featured in vegetarian or seafood dishes, it can also elevate any pasta bake. Tossing maniche pasta with a meaty ragu, topping it with cheese, and baking it in the oven makes for a warm, hearty baked pasta that anyone will enjoy. 

These simple dishes are just a few ways you can enjoy maniche pasta.  

Final Thoughts 

Maniche pasta may be one of many tube-shaped pasta varieties, but its small size and distinct texture definitely make it stand out among the rest. Because of its versatility, it can be used in a wide array of pasta dishes, from light, summery recipes to warm, robust meals. 

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