The Right Sauce- Marrying Sauce and Pasta


pasta in bowl

As promised I am following up my pasta article with a little information on sauce.

One of my food loving friends once said, “Just use whatever sauce you like with whatever pasta you like. It makes no difference.”

You can certainly do this, but there is in fact a difference.

Pasta comes in a number of shapes and sizes- some big, some really small, some skinny, some rather fat, and there is also pasta that is curvy or ridged. Since pasta sauce comes in several varieties and consistencies, the best way to have a good pasta experience is to match the shape to the sauce.

According to my ancestors, as well as the National Pasta Association (yes there is a Pasta Association) this is how we should decide what sauce to use…

  • Thin pastas are good with thin sauces. This is simply because the sauce slides easily over the surface of the pasta. A red tomato sauce or an olive oil works perfectly.
  • Tube, twisty shapes like penne, work with thick sauces. This type of pasta can capture and hold onto hearty sauce as opposed to sliding right off and onto your plate. Ridged pasta also fits into this category.
  • Ribbons which are wide, flat pastas seem to be great at soaking up thick, creamy sauces. The rule is: the wider the noodles, the heavier the sauce should be.

So what are the different sauces? There are too many to count; however, here is a list of some of the more popular sauces:

Pomodoro- simple tomato sauce

Bologne– meat sauce with ground beef or pork, tomatoes, onions, garlic and celery.

Marinara- tomato sauce seasoned with onions, garlic and oregano.

Alfredo– butter, cream and grated cheese

Burro- butter and grated Parmesan cheese

Aglio e olio– olive oil with garlic and parsley

Frutti di mare– seafood sauce

Carbonara- cream, eggs, Parmesan cheese and bacon bits.

Pesto– oil, grated cheese, basil, garlic and crushed pine nuts

Vodka– tomato sauce with vodka and heavy cream

The best part of pasta sauce is that you can make it your own. You can add your favourite spices to make a new recipe or add vegetables and meat that you really like. My grandmother, (Nonna) Stella Madaleno used to put cooked spareribs in some of her sauces. Once the meat fell off the bones and into the simmering tomato sauce, she knew the sauce was ready.

Whether you are a tomato sauce lover or prefer creamy sauces, remember that pasta is a quick, easy and affordable meal to whip up.



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