There’s a classic rag that goes well with spaghetti, or carbonara sauce for fettuccine. There’s white pasta sauce, red pasta sauce, pesto sauce, marinara pasta sauce, alfredo, and many other unique pasta options.
The best pasta sauces
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, there are so many fun pasta sauces you can spend your life trying to cook them all!
Most types of Italian pasta sauce fall into one of several distinct categories. There are tomato-based sauces, such as classic pasta or marinara sauce; There are sauces of heavier cream; There are wine based sauces. There are oil-based sauces such as pesto or aglio e olio.
There are a lot of different types of pasta sauces to try, but you have to start somewhere!
Bolognese is a classic Italian pasta sauce recipe, which is often associated with long pasta like tagliatelle, spaghetti or fettuccine. Originally from the Italian city of Bologna, Bolognese is a meat-based spaghetti sauce traditionally based on meat and tomatoes.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 crushed garlic cloves
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1 carrot finely chopped
- 1 finely chopped celery
- Kilo minced beef
- ½ kg ground pork
- 1 1/2 cups red wine or clear beef broth.
- 1 cup full fat milk
- 2 cans whole tomatoes with juice
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 bay leaf
- Half a teaspoon of salt
- Half a teaspoon of black pepper
- Pappardelle, tagliatelle, or other long pasta, to serve
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Cook onions in oil, over medium heat, about 3-4 minutes, until softened. Add garlic, carrots and celery. Cook until tender, another 5 minutes.
Add beef and pork. Brown to pink. Filter the fat. Add wine and simmer for 7-9 minutes. Add milk and simmer for 6-7 minutes.
Add tomato paste, Italian spices, tomato juice and bay leaf. Crush the tomatoes with a spoon. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until firm. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package. Drain and reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
Mix the pasta with the sauce, adding the pasta water to reduce if necessary. Serve hot with parmesan cheese.
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Rago is another traditional Italian sauce that, like bolognese sauce, is meat-based. Ragua is usually thick on the meat and has only a small amount of tomato sauce added for flavor.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, halved and finely chopped
- 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot finely chopped
- 600gm finely minced beef
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 finely grated garlic cloves
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 150 ml of red wine
- 500 ml beef soup
- 400 grams of spaghetti
- 50g grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the onions, celery and carrots. Fry over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and coloured.
Add the minced meat and cook, cracking any balls with a wooden spoon, until browned.
Add tomato puree, garlic and thyme and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Pour in the wine and increase the heat to boil most of the alcohol.
Reduce the heat, and stir with the broth and seasoning. Cover with a tight lid and cook slightly for 1 hour – 1 hour 15 minutes, until meat is tender and sauce thickens.
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Remove the lid and continue cooking for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta following the instructions on the package. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the spaghetti and add it to the sauce with Parmesan cheese.
Mix well and add a little more pasta water to help the sauce coat the spaghetti.
Pesto sauce is a fantastically healthy pasta sauce that is traditionally prepared using a signature base of basil. Mix pine seeds, a little olive oil and a lot of cheese (usually Parmigiano Reggiano) with some herbs and spices.
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
Put the basil leaves and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor and give a few pulses.
Add garlic and Parmesan or Romano cheese and stir several times. Scrape the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula.
While the food processor is running, add the olive oil slowly and in a small, steady flow. Adding olive oil slowly while the food processor is running will help it to emulsify and help prevent the olive oil from separating. From time to time, pause to scrape the sides of the food processor.
Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Mix with pasta for a quick sauce, and place on top of baked potatoes or spread on crackers or toasted slices.
Alfredo is not light and not tomato-based, as it is prepared using a base of thick cream, butter and cheese. It is the best sauce for lovers of rich flavours.
- 100 grams butter
- 200 gm liquid cream
- 2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
- teaspoon italian seasoning
- Half a teaspoon of salt
- Half a teaspoon pepper
- 150 grams of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Add butter and cream to a large skillet. Simmer for 2 minutes. Add garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper for a minute. Add Parmesan cheese until it melts. Serve directly over pasta.
Hot garlic oil
The simplest sauce, but also the tastiest. Perfect for a quick, delicious and super easy dinner or lunch. Use only the highest quality ingredients to get an extraordinary portion of aglio olio peperoncino!
- 1 kilogram of spaghetti
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped or 6 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground red pepper, or to taste
- 1/2 cup water for pasta
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package, until almost done.
While pasta is boiling, prepare the sauce by mixing olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt in a large skillet.
Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-low heat and cook slowly, letting the oil absorb the flavors of the garlic and pepper flakes.
When the pasta is almost done, transfer it to the skillet in the essential oil with ½ cup of the pasta water. Return the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring quickly, until the pasta is cooked through and the sauce has thickened/emulsified and the pasta is covered. If you like, you can add a little olive oil.
Remove from heat, add chopped parsley and serve with Parmesan cheese.
Image source: 123rf.com
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