Creste De Gallo Is The Unique Ruffled Pasta Your Dinner Needs

Is there a way to sneak a chicken into a pasta dish while still keeping it vegetarian? You bet there is — if you're willing to think a bit outside the box. Or, inside the box, depending on what kind of container your creste di gallo comes in. This ruffled pasta is meant to evoke the form of its name, which is Italian for "rooster's crest" also known as cockscomb. Creste di gallo is a bit reminiscent of elbow macaroni with its tubular body that arcs from end to end. The flair comes from a prominent ruffle that runs the exterior circumference of the noodle, not unlike the ruddy flourish that crowns a rooster's head.

Creste di gallo's shape and density make it a satisfying bite that adds heft to the dishes it graces. What's more? The distinct shape of the pasta makes it one of great utility when it comes to pairing with a sauce. Whereas some noodles fail to make a happy home for a range of sauces, creste di gallo works with nearly all. The ruffled edge and hollow interior provide nooks and crannies that capture hearty chunks of ragus like Bolognese and become enrobed in creamy sauces. Yet, you can also deploy creste di gallo in leaner sauces, such as marinara or even soup, where its full shape lends a toothsome bite.

A hero's pasta

As with a great many pasta shapes, creste di gallo has not just an intriguing name, but a captivating, if perchance apocryphal, backstory. The Medicis were a wealthy and powerful family in Florence at the dawn of the Italian Renaissance. As such, they had their share of enemies who might wish them harm. Legend has it that the family was alerted to the presence of a particular band of ne'er do wells by the cacophony of one or more roosters. To honor their saviors, the Medicis had pasta created in their form.

If you'd like to commend the chickens for the quick thinking that saved the Medicis, you can cook up some creste di gallo and deploy it in any number of ways. You'll recall we mentioned its resemblance to elbow macaroni, and it indeed makes a fine and fancy swap in a dish of baked mac and cheese. Sticking with the oven, swap ziti for creste di gallo in a dish of baked pasta in a meaty ragu blanketed by melted cheese. It even makes an able addition to vegetable-heavy pasta salads, with a pleasant chew when cooked al dente and a bit of visual pomp.