Pasta Sauce

Whether you prefer spicy arrabiata, nutty pesto, traditional marinara, meaty Bolognese or creamy Alfredo, sauce is the predominant flavor in any pasta dish. Everyone should have a great marinara recipe up their sleeve, and we love this super-simple version from Grace Parisi; it has only a handful of ingredients—canned whole tomatoes, garlic cloves and basil—and comes together in less than an hour. Its classic taste pairs perfectly with everything from homemade pizza to eggplant parmesan. Find these recipes and more from Food & Wine’s guide to pasta sauce.

Pesto alla Trapanese

For some reason baffling to me, Pesto alla Trapanese flies a bit under the radar in comparison to its northern Genoese cousin, which is deliciously laden with perfumy basil, salty cheese, and grassy olive oil. But I promise you this Sicilian-inspired pesto is just as noble and worthy of recognition. Not surprisingly, tomatoes, which grow bountifully all over the Italian south, are the foundation of this herb-driven sauce. Native to Sicily, the Pachino tomato varietal that’s typically used for this dish is small and round (and most reminiscent of what we call cherry tomatoes). In Hudson, New York, these petite, orb-like jewels start to arrive at the market towards the end of June, and aside from buying pints to pop while I shop, I know just what to do with them—this recipe is their time to shine. This no-cook sauce swaps almonds for pine nuts and comes together quickly with the help of a food processor. The pesto can be assembled while the pasta water comes to a boil, enabling you to get dinner on the table in no time. While basil is traditionally used, I like to add mint and parsley for complexity. You can certainly also use herbs such as oregano or rosemary, but I recommend treading lightly if you do; they can be overpowering. The best part about this dish is that it works just as beautifully warm as it does at room temperature, so it’s great for summer entertaining. I find it works well as a main course but makes an equally good companion to grilled chicken, fish, or pork. To drink with it, I recommend something red and chillable, preferably from the same region. We are in Sicily, after all, so why not stay awhile? Try wines from Cerasuolo di Vittoria, the only DOCG on the island, which is a strict blend of Nero d’Avola and Frappato. Or a straightforward Frappato, which is juicy with great minerality and sips best after a 30-minute ice bath. Whatever’s in your glass, I hope you’re sitting outside somewhere in the sun and toasting the fact that summer has finally, finally arrived.
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Basic Tomato Sauce

Chef Hugh Acheson uses a little grated carrot to offset the acidity in his fragrant tomato sauce, which also has plenty of fresh oregano. Slideshow: More Tomato Sauce Recipes
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Tomato Sauce Recipes

Basic marinara sauce is made with just tomatoes, garlic, herbs and onions, but we love to add everything from kimchi to curry powder. Curry seems like an odd addition to something as traditional as marinara, but if you love spicy food, this dish will be a new favorite. Whether you're looking for a classic Italian dish, a no-cook appetizer or a new take on a favorite, these recipes are perfect any time of year. Here, eight twists on tomato sauce from marinara to pomodoro.
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Alfredo Sauce Recipes

Alfredo sauce, a heavy cream sauce made with Parmesan and butter, is a popular companion to fettuccine but is also delicious in lasagna. The sauce in this dish takes just a few minutes to make, combining melted butter and Parmesan with flour and milk for a super creamy alfredo. Layer it in between lasagna noodles (you can also add spinach or cooked chicken if you like), and bake in the oven until the filling is bubbly. If you’re deterred by the traditional heaviness of this dish, try a lighter recipe that uses ricotta cheese instead of heavy cream—add asparagus or spinach to make it a perfect springtime meal. Here, six ways to eat alfredo sauce.
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Puttanesca Recipes

Puttanesca sauce is traditionally served with spaghetti, and is a southern Italian dish made with typical ingredients like toamtoes, olive oil, anchovies, olives, capers and garlic. The sauce became popular in the 1960s, and there are numerous variations of puttanesca. The Neapolitan version is prepared without anchovies, and often adds chili peppers. We like to layer puttanesca sauce into cheesy lasagna, serve it with seared tuna, and toss it with penne and salmon. Here, our favorite ways to use puttanesca sauce.
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Cavatelli with Sparerib Ragù


This hearty ragù, from chef Josh Laurano of Manhattan’s La Sirena, features both little riblets and tender chunks of sparerib meat in a rich tomato sauce. Adding pork skin to the sauce makes it extra luscious, perfect with a glass of tangy Tuscan red, like the Fattoria Fibbiano L’Aspetto that sommelier Luke Boland pours at the restaurant. SlideshowMore Pasta Recipes
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More Pasta Sauce

Bolognese

Bolognese sauce is an originally Italian, meat-based sauce that is served with pasta. Here, our favorite Bolognese recipes including pappardelle with white Bolognese and spaghetti with mushroom Bolognese.
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Ragù

The Italian meat-based sauce ragù is often served with pasta, but can be used to top anything from baked potatoes to gnocchi. Here, our best ragù recipes, from veal ragù with porcini to potato gnocchi with wild mushroom ragù and hazelnuts.
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