It’s no wonder pasta is a family favorite. So easy to cook and serve, it is a platform for any number of sauces, some well-known and others, not so much. Today we will be looking at the wealth of sauces available to top your tagatelle with recipes for a few of our go-tos.
Ahhhh, the Pastabilities!
Let’s start with the classic Marinara. Marinara is a simple, yet sublime, tomato sauce. It usually begins with a soffritto (the Italian word for “under-fried” or “fried slowly” that perfectly describes the process of gently cooking vegetables in oil to soften them and release their flavor) of garlic, onion and olive oil. This is then slowly simmered with chopped, imported Italian plum tomatoes until it reaches a delicate texture. Finished with fresh chopped basil and thyme, it is stupendously flavorful and versatile.
Arrabbiata is a classic Roman sauce made with Italian plum tomatoes and imported olive oil, fresh chopped basil, garlic, onions and final crushed red pepper to add a flavorful kick. That’s where it shines. Hotter than most Italian sauces, once tried, it often becomes a go-to for life.
Puttanesca is a sauce from Naples created in the mid-20th century. What makes it signature is olives, anchovies and capers with a touch of unexpected cinnamon. Completed with Italian plum tomatoes, garlic and olive oil, it is a combination of flavors that only gets better each day. Make a lot. The leftovers are stupendous.
Your basic Vodka sauce is also tomato based and starts with a soffritto of fresh chopped garlic, carrots, celery and onions. Add to that Italian plum tomatoes, Romano and Parmesan cheeses, real cream and vodka and it makes for an exceptionally flavorful, rich and indulgent sauce. You can try sun-dried tomatoes in this, too, which adds to the savory richness. You can’t taste the vodka, but can you?
Next, let’s look at Pesto, a basil-based paste of pine nuts, olive oil, Parmigiana Reggiano and garlic. It is terribly easy to make in a food processor if you have a wealth of fresh summer basil and also freezes nicely. No pine nuts? Walnuts are a less expensive substitution. Definitely use it on pasta, but also on pizza and toast—even in eggs!
Cacio e pepe is one of our favorites and oh, so simple. It is what it says: cheese (Grana Padano and Pecorino) and fresh-ground pepper. Originally served on the lesser known tonnarelli pasta (tonnarelli is an egg pasta often found in Roman dishes; shaped something like spaghetti, it is thicker, square and often has a rough surface that hangs on nicely to sauces), we serve it on any spiral or textured pasta that will hold the butter. The ground pepper is toasted to bring out its best and the sauce is especially deserving of fresh pasta to complete its simple, yet sublime flavor.
Bolognese is a meat-based sauce from the Italian city of Bologna. Typically made with ground meat (beef or pork) and pancetta, it's slow cooked with a soffritto of onions, carrots, and celery, and then combined with tomatoes and milk to give it a creamy, indulgent texture. Traditionalists serve Bolognese on tagliatelle, which is ideal for capturing the sauce in each delicious mouthful.
Alfredo is a cream-based sauce most often served over fettucine. Made with butter, garlic, cream and Parmesan, it is terribly easy and richly delightful, especially when garnished with fresh parsley.
Carbonara, on the other hand, relies on eggs and pancetta to romance its creamy goodness. The smooth sauce is created when the beaten eggs are tossed with the hot pasta and a little fat from the pancetta or bacon. The addition of Parmesan and fresh black pepper give this sauce its complete flavor profile. Hailing from Rome, it takes only as long to make as it takes to boil the pasta—anything from spaghetti to rigatoni!
Finally, we bring you Aglio e olio. The key to this sauce is to slowly toast the garlic to a golden-brown— not too raw and not too done. Aglio e olio is a dish of typical Neapolitan cuisine, widely popular because it is easy and makes use of inexpensive, readily-available ingredients. But that makes it no less spectacular!
And that, my friends is just the beginning! Think four cheese pasta sauce, primavera, Tuscan bean sauce, pomodoro, bechamel, frutti di mare and the list goes on and on. In the meantime, try these favorites from our Chefs. From our pasta plate to yours!
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