14 Classic Pasta Sauces and How to Make Them

In Italy, pasta sauce is a serious business. Regional specialties and recipes are passed from generation to generation. Embedded in each is the story of the families who’ve developed it – but ultimately, it is the taste and quality that counts!

Whether it’s a made-in-a-flash oil-based sauce or a long-simmering ragù, authentic Italian sauces are made from scratch using the finest ingredients. It’s a cooking culture that non-Italians envy. But even if some sauces take longer than others, that doesn’t mean they’re complicated to make. In fact, there’s a sauce for every occasion, and every chef. Which will you make your own?

Most people have heard of Spaghetti Carbonara, for example, even if most of us only get to try it in a restaurant. Actually, it’s quite simple to make as long as you don’t allow the eggs to overcook. ‘Carbonari’ means ‘coal men,’ and it was travelling charcoal sellers who brought the recipe to the Lazio region in the mid-twentieth century.

Do you know Norma? She’s not the chef – she’s the sauce! Pasta alla Norma is named after Vincenzo Bellini’s opera of the same name, for the simple reason that both the opera and the sauce are wonderful. But you don’t have to be an opera buff to prepare Norma. This Sicilian treat works for vegetarians, since it is based on just eggplant, tomatoes, basil, and ricotta. Dish it up with macaroni, rigatoni, or boccole.

So much is possible when you quit fearing the sauce and start making it! We’ve created the ultimate guide to classic Italian pasta sauce recipes to inspire many a cultured evening at home. Once you learn the basics, you’ll find yourself enhancing them with your own added ideas: your favorite cheese, a splash of wine…

The world’s greatest pasta sauces may come from Italy, but they’ll find a new life in your kitchen and on your dinner table.

classic pasta sauces




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Academia Barilla. (2018). Spaghetti With Puttanesca Sauce. academiabarilla.com

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Mangia Bene Pasta. (2018). Spaghetti Allo Scoglio. mangiabenepasta.com

BBC Good Food. (2013). Penne 4 formaggi. bbcgoodfood.com

Great Italian Chefs. (2017). Pasta alla Norma. greatitalianchefs.com

Stewart, M. (2011). Chicken Alfredo with Fettuccine. marthastewart.com

Strand. O. (2011). Cacio e Pepe. epicurious.com

BBC Good Food. (2013). Pasta al Pomodoro Fresco. bbcgoodfood.com



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