Pasta Sauce Worth Stealing For
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Every August my parents invest an entire day to crushing and jarring fresh tomatoes to use for sauce throughout the year. My parents are happy to send me off with a jar when I visit, but I usually (lovingly) try and sneak an extra jar or two from their storage cabinet. I am certain that there is no bank robber or jewel thief in the world that feels the exuberance I feel when I get away with this! This sauce is that good.
If you do not have access to fresh crushed tomatoes, you can use your go-to brand-name canned crushed tomatoes instead… which I may have to do now that my parents will have read that I’ve been swiping their jars…
The process is simple and you may already have most of the ingredients in your pantry, but it requires making a large batch and about a 45-minute simmering period, so all of the flavors can marry, and make sure to taste as you go. This recipe is how our family enjoys it, but feel free to add a little more or less of anything listed below. The good thing is you will have plenty left over to either use throughout the week, or freeze for any recipe that calls for tomato sauce later on.
For the wine: When choosing the wine for your sauce, pick a wine you like to drink. If you like to drink it on its own, you'll like the flavor it adds to the sauce. For this sauce, a sweeter, fruiter wine is best, like a chianti or light cabernet.
For the tomato paste: If you're using store-bought crushed tomatoes, use less tomato paste. Store-bought crushed tomatoes have less water and therefore are already pretty thick. Add slowly until you start to see the consistancy you like. If you're using fresh crushed tomatoes you'll need the above amount, and possibly more if you'd like a thicker sauce.
- 3 olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves, chopped finely
- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 crushed tomatoes
- 2 red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 4 oregano
- 3 garlic powder
- 3 dried basil
- Pinch of sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 black pepper
- 3 wine
- 1 tomato paste
- Handful of fresh basil
Calories Per Serving140
Folate equivalent (total)43µg11%
5 of the Easiest Pasta Sauces Every Home Cook Should Know
Go to just about any Italian restaurant and you’ll see a handful of staple pasta dishes like bolognese and alfredo. Those essentials please just about anyone, so it’s wise to get to know them in your own kitchen.
These five basic sauces can dress up any size and shape pasta, be it spaghetti, penne, or ravioli. Add them to your repertoire and you’ll have a solid foundation to lean on when pasta night comes around.
Which pasta should I serve arrabbiata sauce with?
Traditionally, arrabbiata sauce is served with penne rigate (the penne with a ridged surface instead of smooth, in the photo above). I find it hard to get good penne here in Spain so I usually use rigatoni as the ridges also catch all the tasty sauce.
I often eat it with spaghetti as well, but that&rsquos because I have a weird childish fascination with spaghetti (you can TWIRL it!).
Whichever type of pasta you use, do NOT add oil to your drained pasta or rinse it to prevent sticking, as this will also stop the sauce adhering to the pasta.
I always get the sauce ready before the pasta so that the moment I drain the pasta I can add it to the sauce in the pan and toss it well.
Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a Dutch oven or other large pot over medium-high. Cook half of mushrooms in a single layer, undisturbed, until edges are brown and starting to crisp, about 3 minutes. Give mushrooms a toss and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until all sides are brown and crisp, about 5 minutes more. Using a slotted spoon, transfer mushrooms to a plate season with salt. Repeat with remaining 2 Tbsp. oil and mushrooms and more salt.
Reduce heat to medium-low and return all of the mushrooms to the pot. Add shallots and cook, stirring often, until shallots are translucent and softened, about 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 2 minutes less than package directions.
Using tongs, transfer pasta to pot with mushrooms and add cream and 1 cup pasta cooking liquid. Increase heat to medium, bring to a simmer, and cook, tossing constantly, until pasta is al dente and liquid is slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.
Remove pot from heat. Add lemon zest and juice, parsley, butter, ½ oz. Parmesan, and lots of pepper and toss to combine. Taste and season with more salt if needed.
Divide pasta among bowls and top with more Parmesan.
How would you rate Creamy Pasta with Crispy Mushrooms?
I've made this recipe a few times and keep coming back to it. It is amazing!! I personally add more garlic and shallots but this is the only recipe i will use and have added it to my personal recipe book. I've made it for dinner parties and it is a fam favourite. Thank you for the great dish!
To Anonymous from Boston: Pasta cooking liquid is just the water that you cooked the pasta in.
What is pasta cooking liquid? and is it really needed to make this recipe?
goatphuck: you are a total waste of time. Don't waste ours any further
Here is the SECRET to cooking gourmet mushrooms! First you cook them on on medium high with a very small amount of water or broth/stock (
1-2 TBS or small splash). After they are mostly cooked (about 5-10 min depending on your stovetop) and the liquid is gone or almost all gone you lower the heat to medium/low add butter and/or olive oil then you add your shallots and cook for a few minutes then add garlic to avoid over cooking and getting bitter garlic. At this point you also add seasoning (ie pinch or 2 of salt, pepper and some dried herbs such as herbs de provence or similar or fresh herbs such as parsley in this recipe ). Cook until the mushrooms are golden brown which takes 5-10 min from when you added butter usually. They will be absolutely divine. Once they are golden you add the cream and follow this recipe. Cooking the mushrooms in water/broth before oil allows stops them from absorbing all the oil, allows them to become golden and and absolutely is a game changer. I make this recipe pretty frequently! I sometimes cheat and add some boursin cheese for extra flavor. ITS SO DARN GOOD.
Simple to pull together, quick and easy and so delicious
Easy and really good. I’ve made it a few times, but it’s still 4 stars from me. Will add the final star if the mushrooms ever get actually crispy. (I used cremini each time.) Maybe with “drier” types like oyster?
Maybe I’m an idiot but I had a hard time getting the sauce to be smooth and creamy was more chunky. Tasted like cashews which is fine but not a good substitute for dairy. Will probably just go back to making a normal roux and using alternative milk instead of milk for a non dairy creamy pasta sauce.
Just did this sauce using sausage meatballs as well and used it to top fresh homemade tagliatelle. It was super tasty.
Orangeville, Ontario Canada
This came out great. I didn't think it was bland like other reviewers. I used a wild mushroom medley, replaced the parsley with tarragon, and used a good quality pecorino romano. Will definitely keep this on file for a quick weeknight recipe.
Delicious! I'm not usually the type to enjoy heavy cream based dishes, but this was an absolute treat!
Very tasty -- plus quick and easy. Even good the next day. But I've made it twice and haven't been able to get my mushrooms to be "crispy." Followed the recipe carefully but just got your basic sauteed mushrooms. Is crispy an overstatement?
SOOO GOOD! Just finished my leftovers from last night and I think it was even better the next day. Used fresh whole wheat pasta. I didn't have shallot on hand, so I subbed 1/2 a small yellow onion and a clove of garlic. Deglazed onion/garlic with white wine. This will be my go-to recipe for mushroom pasta in the future.
Just a suggestion: mushrooms love Cream Sherry, any kind of Sherry adds an earthy nuttiness', your soup will Pop!
5 Rules For Making the Best Pasta, From a True Pasta Master
If there's one fact that best defines Evan Funke, it's this: His literal job is to make pasta, but he refuses to eat the stuff in America. His fear, he says, is that American pasta might sully his sensory recall of the revelatory pasta-eating experiences he’s had in Italy. And for the chef-owner of L.A.’s handmade-pasta temple, Felix Trattoria, that’s simply not acceptable.
Funke is a man obsessed, on a self-assigned lifelong mission to save obscure pasta shapes from the brink of extinction. It all began 13 years ago with an apprenticeship in Bologna, where he worked alongside pasta maestra Alessandra Spisni. Since then he has returned to Italy twice a year to find small-town sfoglini, or pasta makers, each of whom has perfected one particular passed-down-through-the-generations shape. He documents their anthropology, masters their technique, and brings each shape back to L.A. with him, from floppy diamonds of testaroli to ruffled squares of quadrefiore. In fact, no pasta shall grace the menu at Felix if it hasn’t been physically taught to Funke by the hands of a native Italian.
Which is to say, I was a bit intimidated when I flew out to L.A. to meet Funke—especially since I had gone to ask him for five regular old store-bought dried pasta recipes that one could easily make at home. Walking past the glass-walled pasta laboratory and catching a glimpse of a plaque that read “F*#% Your Pasta Machine,” I was worried that when he heard my request he might throw a vat of perfectly salted pasta water straight at my face.
But no! Turns out Funke is nearly as enthusiastic about cooking dried pasta (as long as it’s very good dried pasta—made in Italy, of course) as he is the fresh stuff. His favorites? When you’re on the hunt for those obscure, lesser-known shapes, look no further than Rustichella D➫ruzzo, a nearly century-old brand, which started in Penne, Italy, in 1924. Molini Del Ponte is made using an ancient grain called tumminia. (Twisty busiate is Funke’s preferred shape he likes to pair it with pesto.) And Garofolo, born back in 1789 in Gragnano, Italy, where natural spring water flows and the climatic conditions are apparently ideal for drying pasta (legit!). This brand has mastered the art of texture at an accessible price point.
And though Funke’s meticulousness may be slightly maniacal, he’s also pretty down-to-earth. Over the two days we spent together, he enlightened me, surprised me, humbled me, and proved to me that with a little finesse, a lot of respect, and adherence to the five simple rules you’ll find corresponding to the recipes below, even dried pasta has the potential to transcend.
You can use less sauce
Ready made pasta sauces often have too much salt and sugar in them, which reduces the health benefits of the entire dish. However, if you make delicious fresh pasta, you’ll enjoy the taste of the actual pasta so much that you won’t need to drown it in sauce. Homemade pasta – especially if it’s filled pasta like ravioli or tortellini – is delicious with just some extra virgin olive oil and garlic or butter and sage. Another recipe I love which doesn’t require any sauce is a classic Carbonara with eggs and guanciale.
Fewer ingredients to make a tastier meal? Sounds good to us!
Marinara Worth Mastering
The first thing to know about marinara: it’s not a synonym for tomato sauce.
“Marinara is very specific,” says Oretta Zanini de Vita, who has just published a very specific cookbook on how to pair pasta shapes with pasta sauces. “Tomato sauce is a completely different thing.”
“It’s all about quick, and light, and feeling the tomatoes in your mouth,” said Lidia Bastianich, who recently published her 12th book on the food of Italy, “Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking” (Knopf).
Real marinara sauce has the taste and juice of fresh tomato, but also a velvety texture and the rich bite of olive oil: even the best jarred sauces can’t pull that off. And because it comes together from pantry ingredients before the pasta water even comes to a boil, it’s a recipe that home cooks should master.
The trick to perfect marinara is to cook it at a vigorous simmer, so that the tomatoes are cooked through just as the sauce becomes thick. The tomato pieces hold their shape, the seeds don’t have time to turn bitter, and the color stays bright red. Done right, it explains why spaghetti with tomato sauce is a dish that a person might crave virtually every day, as fundamental as bread and butter or rice and kimchi.
“It’s a real chef’s flavor,” Ms. Bastianich said. “It takes work to get to the simplicity.”
Marinara became a catchall term for tomato sauce in this country because its ingredients are all plentiful in Campania, the area around Naples that sent so many families to the United States in the last century. Italian-American cooks treated it as a multifunctional ingredient: a starting point for other sauces, the base of a soup, the acid that breaks down meat in a stew. Strictly speaking, it consists of olive oil, ripe tomatoes, a substantial hit of garlic, a nip of dried chile and dried oregano (or, in modern times, fresh basil). The list of things that do not belong in marinara is much longer: no onions, no wine, no meatballs, no anchovies, no tomato paste, no butter (as in Marcella Hazan’s well-loved sauce) and almost no time.
“Everyone thinks you have to have a grandma in the kitchen, stirring for three hours, to make your own sauce,” said Frank Prisinzano, who makes four different tomato sauces at his restaurant Sauce in the East Village. “Marinara, after 25 minutes, it’s dead.”
Back in the last century, when most Americans cooks had never heard of “pasta” (it was called macaroni), there was one kind of tomato sauce at the supermarket. It was smooth and sweet, came in a can and had a reliably faint onion flavor. Now there are hundreds.
Even basic sauce goes under many different names (tomato-basil, marinara, chunky onion-tomato, rustico, classic) and can easily cost $10 a quart. Much better to buy a can of tomatoes and make your own.
There is nothing wrong with a slow-cooked sugo di pomodoro, a long-simmered smooth sauce with aromatics like onion and celery. Or the quick sauté of whole tomatoes, olive oil, minimal garlic and basil that produces pasta al pomodoro e basilico. Or a complex ragù, which often includes red meat and can cook for many hours, until the meat melts into the sauce.
But none of them is marinara, a simple combination that nonetheless requires a particular method and specific ingredients. If you usually buy jarred sauce, or think of tomato sauce as too basic to merit much attention, put Ms. Bastianich’s precise recipe to the test.
Use a skillet, not a saucepan. This allows the sauce to cook evenly and thicken quickly.
Use fresh-tasting olive oil it matters not whether from Italy or California or Greece.
Use garlic cloves that are not sprouted or yellow, but firm and white. Once peeled, they can be thinly sliced or slivered, or left whole and lightly crushed, but not chopped or minced. The more the garlic cells are broken down, the more sulfurous molecules, which produce a strong odor and flavor, are released. “Using lots of garlic is a stereotype of Italian food, but the way we use it keeps the flavor under control,” Ms. Bastianich said.
Use fresh basil sprigs, preferably not the overgrown Jack-and-the-Beanstalk kind with floppy leaves and fibrous stems, but it will do. (The greenhouse basil available most of the year is often grassy-tasting small leaves are tastier.) Dried oregano is traditional and can be used interchangeably at many Italian and Greek markets, it is sold on the branch, which lends a rounder flavor than the leaves in the jar.
What to Cook This Week
Sam Sifton has menu suggestions for the week. There are thousands of ideas for what to cook waiting for you on New York Times Cooking.
- A salty-sweet garlic and scallion marinade enhances these Korean beef burgers with sesame-cucumber pickles from Kay Chun.
- If you can get your hands on good salmon at the market, try this fine recipe for roasted dill salmon.
- Consider these dan dan noodles from Café China in New York. Outrageous.
- How about crispy bean cakes with harissa, lemon and herbs? Try them with some yogurt and lemon wedges.
- Angela Dimayuga’s bistek is one of the great feeds, with rice on the side.
If possible, use a small dried chile instead of flakes from a jar, which include the bitter seeds. Fish it out of the sauce and discard at the end.
And now, to the tomatoes. If you happen to live near Mount Vesuvius, by all means use ripe local tomatoes. If not, canned are almost certainly your best option.
Some canned tomatoes from the area around Naples, characterized by volcanic soil, plentiful sunshine and salty breezes, are certified by the European Union as “San Marzano” tomatoes. San Marzano is a Denominazione d’Origine Protetta, meaning that the tomatoes are grown, processed and packed there.
But because the entire area of the D.O.P. is about 16,000 hectares, or 60 square miles, it cannot possibly produce the millions of cans that now bear the name San Marzano. These may be tomatoes of the San Marzano strain, but grown in New Jersey or Chile or Tunisia. This is true even if they are labeled “product of Italy,” which assures only that they were canned in Italy. (Unless it doesn’t.) As with extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and other prestige ingredients, both fraud and confusion are now rampant in the business of selling San Marzano tomatoes. European Union certified tomatoes can be identified by the red-and-yellow sunburst on the label, but according to Mr. Prisinzano, even that doesn’t assure the best flavor.
“This is Italy we’re talking about,” he said. “They love tomatoes more than anything. Do you really think they’re going to take the best ones, put them in a can and send them over here for us to eat? No way.”
Mr. Prisinzano uses a hefty proportion of domestic Redpack brand tomatoes in his sauces: he likes their predictability and tang. But to balance them with sweetness and bright flavor, twice a year he conducts a tasting of dozens of brands to sniff out which part of the world, which packer, which strain is producing the best tomatoes of that particular harvest. Usually, whole tomatoes are the finest specimens, but crushed tomatoes are sometimes made from the ripest fruit. “Sauce is what I do,” he said. “I have to get it right.”
It all comes out in the sauce: make marinara from a few different brands to find your favorite. The best tomatoes will be fleshy but juicy, ripe from end to end, and have the particular balance of acid and sweetness that you prefer.
The explanations of why this sauce is called alla marinara — of the sailor — when it doesn’t contain fish, are many and convoluted. It may be because this light, quick-cooking sauce is well suited to fish and shellfish. Or because fishermen had to cook dinner out on their boats in the Bay of Naples, and didn’t have time or fuel to simmer a sauce for hours.
Or, according to Ms. Zanini de Vita, who has just published “Sauces and Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way” (W. W. Norton), it could be that the Neapolitan fishermen had a trick to deepen the flavor. “They would put a stone from the sea to boil in the sauce,” she said. This sounded preposterous until she added, “or some seaweed,” which makes more sense: seaweeds and sea salt both contain natural glutamates, which produce umami, a rounded, savory flavor that makes food satisfying.
Ms. Zanini de Vita and her co-author, Maureen B. Fant (an American who writes for The New York Times from Rome), agree that marinara can be paired with almost any shape of pasta, making it unusually versatile within the Italian canon. (Smooth tomato sauces, they said, work with long, thin shapes like spaghetti chunky ones usually demand a stubby shape, with holes or cups to catch the sauce.)
Strictly speaking, marinara should not be served with cheese.
And finally, marinara should never be spooned on top of plain pasta, but tossed with it in a preheated serving bowl — or in the cooking pot — as soon as the pasta is ready. This may be the most important step of all, but American cooks often don’t observe protocol, said Ms. Fant, who teaches classes in Roman cooking.
“You never, never leave the pasta sitting around in a colander,” she said. “In Italy you could go to jail for that.”
Rustle up something amazing for dinner with passata. From lasagnes to gazpacho, pizza to ragu, these recipes all feature tomato passata as a key ingredient.
Batch cooking sieved tomato sauce means you can freeze it in portions and defrost to use however you please
Creamy tomato soup
A low-fat, vegetarian soup that everyone will love - passata and whole milk give a silky smooth finish
Packed with vitamin C, low fat and counts as two of your five a day – this should be on the menu every week!
This classic chicken Parmesan recipe gets the Good Food makeover, resulting in a hearty yet healthy dish great for sharing with your mates
Pizza Margherita in 4 easy steps
Even a novice cook can master the art of pizza with our simple step-by-step guide. Bellissimo!
Roasted pepper sauce for pasta or chicken
A superhealthy roasted pepper pasta sauce recipe that's versatile and tasty
A light but luscious veggie lasagne to tickle your taste buds - it contains just 13g of fat compared to the more usual 19g
Herby chickpea balls with tomato sauce
Vegetarians don't need to miss out on pasta with meatballs, with this no-fuss meat-free version
Quick tomato risotto
Making risotto doesn't have to involve hours of stirring over the stove, as this easy tomato recipe proves
Beany pasta pot
A superhealthy dish - counts as 2 of your 5-a-day
Ham & olive lasagne
When all you really want is a plateful of comforting lasagne - this version is on the table in 30 minutes
BBQ bacon beans
A tasty alternative to baked beans, this recipe will spice up your jacket potatoes no end
Meatballs with pesto mash
A rustic Italian-style family dinner, with herby mashed potatoes
Very simple Margherita pizza
You can't beat piping hot cheese and tomato on a thin, crispy pizza base - this version is ready in just 35 minutes
Sausage ragu & spinach pasta bake
This everyday, freeze-ahead supper combines tomatoes with a creamy cheese sauce - a perfect family meal
This is easier than you think to make and is so delicious, make double and pop one in the freezer
Really sticky ribs
This simple marinade turns pork ribs into a sticky, barbecuey nibble and is a real hit with the kids
Chilli bean baguettes
Chilli beans spice up a baguette filling - this recipe is a good source of folic acid and costs around 70p a head
Cheese & tomato pasta bakes
This sort of family meal is well worth making in bulk so you can eat one now and freeze the rest for later
Cooked with butter, cashew nut butter, tangy passata and plenty of spices, this chicken curry is rich, indulgent and ready in less than an hour
Griddled courgette & seafood lasagne
Superhealthy and lower in fat than a traditional lasagne, this version is also a lot quicker to assemble
Roasted spring vegetable pizza
This tasty pizza contains less than 300 calories per serving – generously topped with peas, leeks, peppers and cherry tomatoes to ramp up the veg count
If the only ratatouille you're familiar with is the movie about the rat who longs to be a great chef, you're totally missing out. Packed with veggies and flavor to boot, there's nothing not to love about this classic, marinara-smothered dish. To make it at home, saute some garlic, chopped bell peppers, eggplant, onion, yellow squash, and zucchini in olive oil. Add one cup of sauce and a ½ cup of water to the pan, along with some fresh basil. Allow the mixture to simmer until tender before digging in.
10 Delicious 5 Ingredient Pasta Recipes Worth Trying
When life throws a coronavirus pandemic in your path, it’s time for you to hone your cooking skills. Nothing brings out the best in a food-lover as the pasta does.
A great pasta tantalizes our taste buds and satisfies our cravings. If you don’t want to spend too much but still want delicious pasta on your menu, try these 5-ingredient ten pasta recipes.
1. Extra Easy Lasagna
This Vegetable salad pasta requires zucchinis, bell peppers, cheese, spinach tortelloni, and lemon-shallot vinaigrette. You will also need fresh basil leaves.
Season the zucchini and bell peppers with salt and pepper. Grill all the vegetables and toss them with the pasta and other ingredients. Add a little basil for garnishing.
4. Creamy Pasta with Asparagus & Peas
You will need any pasta of your liking, followed by asparagus, peas, lemon zest and juice, and soft cheese. Cook the pasta and add asparagus and peas two minutes before you finish cooking.
Save some of the cooking liquid while draining the pasta. Add pasta and vegetables to the pan, followed by all the ingredients. You can mix lemon juice with cooking liquid and pour it into the sauce.
5. Cheesy Tuna Pesto Pasta
You will need to gather penne pasta, olive oil, basil pesto, grated cheddar cheese, and tomatoes for this cheesy tuna pesto pasta. Boil the pasta. Prepare a pesto mix by adding oil to the cheese and tomatoes.
Toss the pasta in the pesto mix. Pour it into a baking tray and add the left-over cheese. Grill the pasta for 4 minutes and your cheesy pesto pasta is ready. Serve with garlic bread.
6. Easy Pesto Pasta
You will need spaghetti, pesto, and parmesan cheese for this easy-peasy pasta recipe. Boil the spaghetti and drain the water. Take a pan and add pesto and half of the parmesan cheese.
Toss all the ingredients and dish out the pasta in a serving dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and enjoy it.
7. Creamy Tomato Angel Hair Pasta
The Creamy Pasta recipe will require angel hair pasta, pasta sauce, cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, fresh basil, and lemon wedges. Boil the angel hair pasta.
Add pasta sauce to another pan and let it boil. Then add cream cheese to it and stir until the mixture is smooth. Toss the pasta with sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and basil. Serve lemon wedges on the side.
8. Pasta With Bacon & Asparagus
Cook your pasta. Take another pan and toss your bacon until it’s crispy. Please take out the bacon once it’s ready and saute asparagus in the same pan.
Add the pasta to the pan and mix it well with cooked bacon and asparagus. Dish out the pasta when it’s ready and sprinkle it with Parmesan cheese.
9. Cacio E Pepe
You will need bucatini or spaghetti, unsalted butter, pepper, egg yolk, and grated Parmesan cheese. Boil your pasta and save half a cup of water. Melt your butter into the water you saved and mix it with your pasta.
Toss your pasta with cheese and egg yolk. Add water if the mixture is too thick. Make it cheesy by adding more cheese. Season it the way you like.
10. Parmesan Garlic Spaghetti
Parmesan Garlic Spaghetti recipe will require spaghetti, unsalted butter, minced garlic, grated Parmesan cheese, red pepper, and black pepper. Add salt to taste and garnish with parsley leaves.
Boil your pasta. Add butter, garlic, and red pepper in a separate pan. Cook until the butter melts and changes color to a golden brown. Mix the pasta and add Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper.