The Ultimate Guide to Pasta Sauces: Recipes and Pairings

Pasta is a versatile dish that can be paired with a wide range of sauces. Whether you prefer a classic marinara or a creamy Alfredo, there’s a pasta sauce out there for everyone. Here’s a guide to some of the most popular pasta sauces, including recipes and pairings.

1. Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce is a classic tomato-based sauce that is perfect for a variety of pasta dishes. It’s made with tomatoes, garlic, onion, and herbs like basil and oregano. Marinara sauce is great with spaghetti, linguine, and penne.

Recipe: Classic Marinara Sauce

Ingredients:
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 onion, chopped
– 4 garlic cloves, minced
– 2 cans (28 ounces each) crushed tomatoes
– 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
– Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
2. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is soft and translucent.
3. Add the crushed tomatoes and bring to a simmer.
4. Cook for about 20 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
5. Add the chopped basil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pairings: Spaghetti, linguine, penne

2. Alfredo Sauce

Alfredo sauce is a rich and creamy sauce that is made with butter, cream, and Parmesan cheese. It’s perfect for fettuccine and can be made with different variations like adding garlic or mushrooms for more flavor.

Recipe: Classic Alfredo Sauce

Ingredients:
– 1/2 cup unsalted butter
– 2 cups heavy cream
– 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
– Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
2. Add the heavy cream and simmer for 5-7 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
3. Add the Parmesan cheese and stir until it has melted and the sauce is smooth.
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pairings: Fettuccine, linguine, penne

3. Pesto Sauce

Pesto sauce is a fresh and flavorful sauce that is made with fresh basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and olive oil. It’s perfect for spaghetti, fusilli, and penne.

Recipe: Classic Pesto Sauce

Ingredients:
– 2 cups fresh basil leaves
– 2 garlic cloves, peeled
– 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
– 1/2 cup pine nuts
– 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
– Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
1. Combine the basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
2. With the food processor running, slowly add the olive oil until the mixture is smooth.
3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pairings: Spaghetti, fusilli, penne

4. Bolognese Sauce

Bolognese sauce is a hearty and meaty sauce that is perfect for spaghetti and rigatoni. It’s made with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, and carrots, and is simmered for several hours to develop a rich flavor.

Recipe: Classic Bolognese Sauce

Ingredients:
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 onion, chopped
– 2 carrots, chopped
– 2 celery stalks, chopped
– 1 pound ground beef
– 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
– 1/2 cup red wine
– Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
2. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook until the vegetables are soft.
3. Add the ground beef and cook until it is browned and cooked through.
4. Add the crushed tomatoes and red wine and bring to a simmer.
5. Cook for about 2-3 hours until the sauce has thickened and the flavors have developed.
6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pairings: Spaghetti, rigatoni

By mastering a few basic pasta sauces, you can create endless variations of pasta dishes. Experiment with different ingredients and pairings to discover your favorite pasta sauces.