4 Basic Pasta Sauces for Fast, Filling and Delicious Weekday Dinners

Infinite pasta options await! Get started by mastering four versatile base sauces.

IMAGE Riell Santos


 

We all get tired at the end of the day and more often than not, end up with some mediocre dinner. When you master the art of basic pasta sauces though, you'll see that delicious can be effortless. We give you the four basic sauces and the best kind of pasta to pair them up so you never have to sleep hungry or dissatisfied with dinner ever again.

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Marinara Sauce

Pasta to pair with: Angel hair, bucatini, cannelloni, conchiglie, farfalle, fettuccine, fusilli, lasagna, linguine, maccheroni, orecchiette, penne, ravioli, rigatoni, tortellini

Makes about 3 cups

Prep time 5 minutes

Cooking time 30 minutes

 

1 Combine 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, 1 medium onion (chopped finely), 4 cloves garlic (chopped finely), and 1/2 cup butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. You can also add chopped fresh herbs or red pepper flakes.

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2 Bring mixture to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

 

3 Use as desired or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

 

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Basil Pesto

Pasta to pair with: Angel hair, conchiglie, farfalle, fusilli, linguine, orecchiette, ravioli, risoni, tortellini

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Makes about 11/2 cups

Prep time 15 to 20 minutes

 

1 Place 2 lightly packed cups basil leaves (washed and dried), 2 cloves garlic (chopped finely), 1/2 cup pine nuts, and 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese in a food processor. Pulse thrice in 3-second intervals.

 

2 Add 2/3 cup olive oil and pulse several times to combine. If the mixture is too thick, add more oil by the tablespoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

3 Use as desired or store in an airtight container, covered with a thin layer of oil, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

 

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Cream Sauce

Pasta to pair with: Cannelloni, conchiglie, farfalle, fettuccine, fusilli, lasagna, linguine, maccheroni, penne, ravioli, rigatoni, tortellini

Makes about 1 cup

Prep time 5 minutes

Cooking time 5 minutes

 

1 Combine 1/4 cup butter and 3/4 cup whipping cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.

 

2 Bring mixture to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

3 If desired, you can use flavored salts or add grated cheese like parmesan, pecorino romano, or white cheddar.

 

4 Use immediately.

 

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Roasted Garlic Oil

Pasta to pair with: Angel hair, farfalle, fettuccine, fusilli, linguine, maccheroni, orecchiette, penne, ravioli, risoni, tortellini

Makes about 11/2 cups

Prep time 10 to 15 minutes

Cooking time 45 to 55 minutes

 

1 Line a baking dish with foil, overlapping edges if necessary. place cloves (separated and peeled) from 2 heads garlic in the center. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.

 

2 Crimp foil around garlic to make an enclosure and pour in 1 cup olive oil in the center. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 30 to 45 minutes or until garlic cloves have softened and turned light gold in color. Set aside to cool.

 

4 Use as desired or store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

 

 

Keep in mind this pasta pairing rule of thumb: Thicker, wider, and rougher pastas (like penne and pappardelle) are best paired with heavier sauces (like ragu and cream sauces), while thinner and smoother noodles (like spaghetti) should be matched with lighter sauces (like pesto).

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These recipes are by Mel Jimenez. Article was published in the November 2014 issue of Yummy magazine. Minor edits were made by Yummy.ph editors. 

 

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