Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Pasta Sauce – need advice


Recommended Posts

Hi, here is some background on myself. I am 23 and single, I am not averse to spending 30-45 min preparing a meal but if I spend that long it damn well better last me for 4 days :)

I am in a quest for the perfect pasta sauce. I eat a lot of spaghetti, since it is cheap, easy to cook and tastes good. I have tried most of the spaghetti sauces I find in the store, and I have found that they all suffer from flaws. One, many are too sweet. I hate sweetness with meat or vegetables. Two, many taste too strongly of tomatoes. I don't particularly like the taste of raw tomatoes, and some sauces taste too much like these.

Any good pasta sauce recipes? Meat or meatless. If it helps, my favorite is Bertolli's Olive Oil and Garlic.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

We've discussed this at some length... most recently in the "Cooking" board...

I'd do a link, but I don't know how. I can tell you that it's called something like "What's your favorite bottled pasta sauce?" or somthing similar, and it's currently hanging on at the bottom of page two.

There was pretty lively discussion and I think you'll find it interesting.

I can't remember what everyone said (other than that making your own is best by far) but I and several others highly recommended Moms when you're in a hurry. No sugar. Wonderful natural ingredients like you put in your own when you have the time.

If it's not available at stores where you live, someone on the other thread helpfully put in a link to Moms website where you can order it.

EDIT: Oh - and you also said you don't like sauce that's too tomatoey... scan the entire "Cooking" board. You'll find several threads that have "pasta" in the title. There are many quick recipes that don't call for tomatoes at all.... just olive oil, or beaten eggs, or clams, or cream, or wine, or tuna, or capers.... or whatever.....

There are enough recipes and ideas here for pasta sauces to keep you humming Italian love songs for the next year.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i think our poster wants some recipes, rather than suggestions on store-bought. unfortunately, i have none, as my wife does the sauce cooking. what i can tell you is that it will probably be more like 2 to 3 hours for a good sauce. 30-45 minutes is about the time it would take to prepare a meal of sauteed chicken breast. :smile:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perfection is sooooo subjective. I'll post a few of my favorite combinations -- none of which should take you longer than 45 minutes at most to prepare:

garlic and olive oil sauce (at LEAST 7 garlic cloves, olive oil, red pepper flakes);

salsa di verdura (any fresh seasonal vegetable sauteed in extra virgin olive oil ("EVOO") until tender, then pureed in a blender with salt and pepper until creamy. Add as much EVOO as you like, as you puree the vegetables. Thin out the sauce if necessary using the pasta cooking water);

cauliflower, garlic, Gaeta (or other type olives), capers, anchovy fillets (be sure to get the salt packed anchovies), Italian parsley;

Italian oil packed tuna, EVOO, lemon juice, lemon zest, Italian parsley, garlic, capers, freshly cracked black pepper (amount of EVOO in this sauce combination should be at least 1/3 c. since it forms the basis of the sauce).

For an exact recipe, click here.

For a recipe for tomato base (useful for a quick pasta sauce), click here.

For detailed discussions, try the thread that shugga bumped up for you, or do a search.

This is a recipe for Bolognese sauce that borders on the authentic, but will take about 5 hours. It is, however, markedly close to "perfection", IMHO.


Good luck,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't particularly like the taste of raw tomatoes, and some sauces taste too much like these.

Any good pasta sauce recipes?  Meat or meatless.  If it helps, my favorite is Bertolli's Olive Oil and Garlic.

My favorite pastas sauce at this time of year would be fresh tomatoes (preferably peeled, seeded and roughly chopped) tossed in lots of butter for about five minues. Toss over hot pasta with chopped basil and grated romano cheese, but if you don't like raw tomatoes, that's another story.

You might want to try some more interesting and very flavorful extra virgin olive oil, from a small producer, with garilc or without and some good quality parmesan cheese. Can't get anything faster than that. Most meat sauces really improve with long simmering, but you can freeze them to help amortize your preparation time.

Robert Buxbaum


Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

looking back at my comments about the time it takes to make a sauce, i should probably qualify that i was referring the time it should take to make a sauce in the style of most jarred sauces, if that makes any sense. i see suggestions are being thrown around about how to make a quick one with raw ingredients, which is one of my favorite things to do.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


My all-time favorite is Vodka Sauce.

Here's how I do it.

The base for a good vodka sauce is a really good tomato sauce. This is a great recipe.

I usually make a basic tomato sauce on sunday afternoon. Which w/ last me a week or more if I freeze some.

Add equal amounts of roughly chopped onion, celery, and carrots and a few garlic cloves to a food processor or blender. Lets say 1 large onion, 2 celery stalks, 2 carrots and 7 garlic cloves. Exact quantities are irrelevent since factors like tomato quality and acidity (canned or fresh) make it tough to produce a consistent flavor each and every time.

(Note: carrots are added to supply an indirect sweetness, I hate a sweet marinara sauce that you can taste the sugar in. Carrots add a slight bit of sweetness to mellow out the tomato acidity)

Puree this mixture up until no more chunks are seen. If your using a blender you may need to add a little bit of water and shake it a bit to get all the mixture all blended.

Heat up some olive oil in a pot to medium heat and add the wet pureed mixture. Add some salt, cracked pepper, a few red pepper flakes, and a little oregano. Sautee for about 15 minutes over medium heat.

Now for the tomatos. You can use fresh but they are a pain in the ass and the quality from some canned products are so much more flavorful.

Go to an Italian deli and buy some cans of plum tomatoes, whole or crushed. I like to use San Marzano whole plum tomatoes. I open up 4 or 5 (28oz. I think) cans and pour them into a large bowl and crush the whole tomatoes in my hands to maintain some of the chunks. Or if you don't like chunks, just use the crushed tomatoes.

Pour this into the pot w/ the sauteed mixture. Bring to a slight boil and then lower heat to very low and cover.

I let my sauce simmer for about an hour. The longer you cook the less acidic and tomatoeee taste the sauce w/ have. My mother used to cook her sauce for about 3 to 4 hours. That was a bit too much for me but don't tell her that.

Halfway through the cooking time add some fresh choped basil leaves, about 10 of them.

Now you have a basic tomatoe sauce. And a damn good one at that.

To turn it into a vodca sauce is easy. When it cools put a about a cup of the sauce in a blender and puree. Add this to a sautee pan along w/ about a half cup of vodka. Bring to a simmer until you begin to smell the vodka aroma rise out of the pan. Add some heavy cream (about half a cup) to get a pinkish colored sauce.

I then like to add some cooked penne pasta, chopped proscuito, and baby pees (bought frozen and thawed). Toss till heated.

Other good ingredients are blanched asparagus, ham or anything else you like.


You can make this w/ a jar tomato sauce too but it's not that good.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 12 years later...

*casts thread necromancy spell*

what a difference 12 years makes...between my younger self and now.

just want to mention that there is a universe outside of the usual tropes involving pasta sauces: bolognese, carbonara, puttanesca, marinara, pesto, amatriciana, alfredo and aglio e olio ("garlic and oil")

a very simple pasta sauce could be: olive oil, garlic, sliced zucchini and Italian parsley. adding ricotta lends richness and depth, and takes that in a new direction.

another pasta sauce might be: olive oil, sautéed onion, meat drippings, rosemary

one of my favorite pasta sauces is salsa di acciughe: onion sautéed in a bit of olive oil and butter, along with anchovy and lots of Italian parsley.

while I love garlic, I love onion more when it comes to Italian food.

since we like simplicity, "cacio e pepe" is probably my current ultimate; with minimalist sauces, it really depends on the quality of your ingredients because there's less to hide behind. cacio e pepe = cheese and freshly milled black pepper.

most of the sauces mentioned above don't take a long time to prepare, except for the meat drippings one. on the rare occasions I cook and serve red meat, I like to prepare pasta and use the sugo di carne as the basis for a pasta sauce. waste not, want not as the saying goes.

Edited by SobaAddict70 (log)
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't see why Chinese/Japanese/SE Asian sauces could not be paired with a suitable pasta.  I do it frequently.  Think of the pasta as merely another manifestation of "noodle', and vice versa


Note - I DO object to the use of spaghetti or linguini in place of e-mein or the requisite "round noodles" in certain Chinese dishes, because of the wrong texture that the "pasta" substitutes bring to the dish.  In many other cases the pairing is *just fine*.  :-)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes - a 12-year-old thread...is the OP still around; and has she  devolved on to appreciate other sauces than from out of a jar?  Well, in terms of pure simplicity Marcella Hazan's simple tomato sauce (as others here and elsewhere know about) wouold still fit the OP's bill.  :-)  That one has the taste of tomatoes but is not overwhelmingly so.  Still, if she does not particularly care for the taste of tomatoes as she avers, then those E/SE Asian sauces might indeed be a nice alternative - assuming the OP has learned to cook by now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it's interesting that when I was younger, I thought that if one garlic clove was awesome, then including 10 was more awesome. As opposed to now where one garlic clove is all I really need sometimes, although that too depends on whatever it is I'm making.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Simple Clams Spaghetti.

Sauce: olive oil 20 ml, garlic chopped 3 gloves, parsley fresh, 150 ml wines, 250 g clams. Firstly prepare sauce add clams until they come opened. Add half boiled spaghetti. Salt, pepper. Bon Appetite


I'm ignoring the gloves, but a list of ingredients isn't a recipe.


Half boiled spaghetti? I prefer mine cooked al dente,


  • Like 2

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.


The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You finish cooking the pasta in the sauce so it absorbs some of the flavor and leaches out some of the starch to thicken the sauce.


I'm aware of that. 

However, the "recipe" given just adds the "half-boiled spaghetti" and some seasoning then stops.

Edited by liuzhou (log)

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.


The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Really good sauce  and very simple


Hunts tomato canned sauce, nob or two of butter ( depends on can size),  and a peeled onion (  I call it  a onion Bobber ) cook for 45 mins--  Its a Hazan sauce recipe!!\


Doctor as you wish -- fresh herb, garlic, parm/Romano cheese, a touch of sugar ,  a prosciutto heel , chopped celery , carrots, zucchini


Good luck

Its good to have Morels

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And really, the tomato-butter-onion sauce is only one out of a whole bunch of other sauces, even in Marcella's books.


As much as I like that sauce, I don't make it very often. 


The way people tell it on boards like eG and CH, there's only a limited number of pasta sauces and that's just not true at all.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I second the comments about starting with whole, peeled San Manzanos. Make sure to use the ones that say D.O.P. They are great for a simple red sauce or marinara or whatever you prefer. The dish is all about the tomatoes so get the best you can.

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know everybody here loves Marcella Hazan sauce but the Southern Italian in me just cannot do it, maybe for some kind of ravioli, and topping with pecorino doesn't do it for me.


Franci, if you feel comfortable and have the time ( :wink: ) would you mind sharing with us several of your favorite "go to" pasta sauces? Especially any "stand-bys" that you go to when in a rush?


Everything you've posted on eG has been pretty wonderful in my book, and I'd love to know more.

  • Like 1

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I love the Marcella tomato with butter sauce, but the sauce I make in bulk and find most versatile is an old Mario Batali recipe which uses simply olive oil, onion, garlic, half a finely grated carrot, fresh thyme and good quality canned tomatoes chopped or briefly blitzed in a blender if you want it smoother. A bit of red pepper flakes depending upon my mood. All juices go in of course. I too like the Italian Marzanos marked DOP. In half an hour or a little more, depending on how you like your sauce, it's done.


I make it in large batches and then freeze it in smaller ones so that it's a no-brainer for a quick meal. It's an easy and good sauce for a lasagne or eggplant parm. When I make a batch (at least 2 or 3 28oz cans) I usually leave about a third of it in the pan and simmer it down further for use as a pizza sauce. I've used the sauce as a basis for many toppings. I especially like sautéed cauliflower or sautéed artichokes tossed on top or thrown into the sauce at the end, but I think it's a very versatile recipe and doesn't involve ingredients I don't keep on hand. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I took a look at the index of "La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy" (Accademia Italiana della Cucina) and there are 118 pasta recipes, of which I would say (from a flip through them) roughly 3/4 or thereabouts are pastas either with some sort of sauce or "wet/damp components" of many different types, in many cases with the latter forming part of the whole process of putting the dish together.  A great many dishes do not use tomatoes or tomato puree.


Just for the heck of it I pulled out the two cookbooks by the Tornabenes (mother-and-daughter) of Gangivecchio in Sicily.  There are dozens and dozens of pasta recipes, most built from various ingredients (constituting a "sauce" or "wet component") whether using a very basic sauce as a foundation or not at all.  They write of a fig-and-prosciutto pasta, invented by one of the menfolk; or a simple scallion-and-pasta dish, as just two examples that might not occur to folks stuck in a mental frame where marinara sauce or an "alfredo-like" cream sauce are the automatic choices.  There are many simple recipes, all different, many also not involving tomatoes.  A few recipes with Arabic/Tunisian influence (it is Sicily,** remember) are intriguing.


And so on.


** ETA:  ...and of course there are those who do not consider Sicily to be Italian at all. :-) ;-)



Edited by huiray (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites


  • Similar Content

    • By daniel123456789876543
      I have been making pancetta for the first time. I have experience with the curing process doing things like bacon and cold smoked salmon in the past but this is the first time I have ever hanged anything.
      After a week of curing it has had 11 days  hanging so far (I was planning on taking it to 28 days hanging) Although I foolishly forgot to weigh it. 
      It smells really good like some awesome salami and the outer rim of the pancetta looks lovely and rich and dark.
      It was a recipe by Kuhlman in one of their charcuterie books.
      But when I inspected it today it had the mould growing on it as in the pics below. I have since scrubbed the mould off with white wine vinegar and returned it to the cellar. Is it wise to continue?

    • By shain
      Makes 40 cookies, 2 loaves. 
      50-60 g very aromatic olive oil
      80 g honey 
      120 to 150 g sugar (I use 120 because I like it only gently sweet) 
      2 eggs
      2 teaspoons of fine lemon zest, from apx 1 lemon 
      230 g flour 
      1 teaspoon salt 
      1 teaspoon baking powder 
      75 g lightly toasted peeled pistachios
      50 g lightly toasted almonds (you can replace some with pine nuts) 
      Optional: a little rosemary or anise seed
      Optional: more olive oil for brushing
      Heat oven to 170 deg C.
      In mixer (or by hand), mix oil, honey, sugar, lemon, egg and if desired, the optional spices - until uniform. 
      Separately mix together the flour, salt and baking powder. 
      Add flour mixture to mixer bowel with liquids and fold until uniform. Dough will be sticky and quite stiff. Don't knead or over mix. 
      Add nuts and fold until well dispersed. 
      On a parchment lined baking tray, create two even loaves of dough. 
      With moist hands, shape each to be rectangular and somewhat flat - apx 2cm heigh, 6cm wide and 25cm long. 
      Bake 25 to 30 minutes until golden and baked throughout, yet somewhat soft and sliceable. Rotate pan if needed for even baking. 
      Remove from tray and let chill slightly or completely. 
      Using a sharp serrated knife, gently slice to thin 1/2 cm thick cookies. Each loaf should yield 20 slices. 
      Lay slices on tray and bake for 10 minutes. Flip and bake for another 10-15 minutes until complelty dry and lightly golden. 
      Brush with extra olive oil, if desired. This will and more olive flavor. 
      Let chill completely before removing from tray. 
      Cookies keep well in a closed container and are best served with desert wines or herbal tea. 
    • By psantucc
      My own recipe, though influenced by many sources.
      Santucci's Practical Torrone (Christmas Nougat)
      180g honey (½ cup)
      100g egg whites (2 eggs)
      350g sugar (1 ½ cups)
      50g water (2 tablespoons)
      450g (1 pound) roasted nuts
      5-10 drops orange oil
      2 sheets (8 ½” x 11”) Ostia (aka wafer, edible paper)
      Combine honey, water, and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Skim foam (if any is seen) off the honey when it reaches the boil.
      In a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
      Cook the honey mixture to 280° F (137° C). Remove from the heat. With the mixer on high speed, slowly pour the mixture into the egg whites. Continue to whisk until volume has increased by about half and the mixture just starts to lose gloss – only about 5 minutes.
      Reduce the mixer speed and add the orange oil and nuts. When they are thoroughly mixed in, spread the resulting nougat over a sheet of Ostia. Try to cover the sheet as evenly as possible- the nougat is sticky and will make things difficult. When it is evenly covered, top with the other sheet of Ostia.
      Leave to cool and crystallize completely in the open air before cutting, preferably overnight.
      Note: I call this 'practical' Torrone because the recipe is made for home confectioners of reasonable skill to be able to easily understand what and how much to buy and what to do with it. The ingredient portions are biased for my country, the USA, but I saw no point in using English ounces for the weight-based version – those of us who prefer weight generally prefer it in grams.
      Tips and tricks:
      1.Keep nuts in a warm oven ( about 150° F / 65° C ) until you add them. Adding room temperature or colder nuts will reduce working time.
      2.Getting the nougat spread between sheets of Ostia is the trickiest part of the process. I use buttered caramel rulers on the outside edges of the bottom sheet, pour and press nougat in place, and then press the top layer on with an offset spatula. If you don't have caramel rulers, try spreading the nougat with an offset spatula, topping with the other sheet, and rolling with a pin to smooth. I advise against trying to cast the slab in any kind of fixed side pan, as the stickiness will make it very difficult to remove.
      3.Score the top layer of Ostia before cutting through. Once scored, a straight down cut with a Chef's knife works well. Cut into six 8 1/2” long bars and wrap in parchment or waxed paper to store, then cut into smaller rectangles to serve.
      4.There are many possible alternate flavorings. 1-10 Lemon oil or 1 t. (5 ml) vanilla or almond extract work well and are traditional flavors. Candied orange peel and/or orange zest can also be added.
      5.I use half pistachio and half almonds as the nuts. Hazelnuts (filberts) are also traditional. Any common nut should work.
      6.Ostia is available from confectionery suppliers. I get 8-1/2” x 11” sheets from www.sugarcraft.com under the name 'wafer paper'.
      This recipe is copyright 2009 by Patrick J. Santucci. Contact the author on eGullet under the username psantucc.
    • By Paul Bacino
      1 C Northern Beans soaked over-night in
      4-6C Water or Chxn Stock
      1/2 t Cayenne Pepper
      1//2 t Granulated garlic
      1 twig Dried oregano-- dried from last yr
      2 Bay
      pinch of salt ( yes ) and few pepper corns
      in the Morning; All into the Slow Cooker for 5 hrs. ( Crock Pot )
      I removed half the liquor and added chicken stock here back in . to this I added diced cooked Italian sausage about 1 whole .. simmer in a pot.. I transferred to... then add 1/2 head of shopped chicory ( curly endive ) finish cooking 15 mins
      Most measurements again are from feel
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...