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Non-tomato pasta sauce recipes?

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Any suggestions for simple, inexpensive non-tomato pasta sauces, apart from carbonara variations? Preferably something that could be tossed together from ingredients that were already in the cupboard?

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  1. I love Marcella Hazan's recipe for penne with cauliflower sauce. You basically cook a head of cauliflower and divide it into florets. Then you saute some garlic and anchovies in some olive oil until the anchovies melt. Then add the cauliflower and red chili pepper, salt, and pepper. Then toss with the cooked penne and fresh parsley. I think that's it, but I'd have to look it up to be more exact.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Sharon

      oh yeah this is to die for! my mom (who's sicilian) would make this all the time when i was growing up. whomever came up with the idea of putting cauliflower and pasta together was genius. she never put anchovies in it, but i'm sure that's good.

      my mom also makes a great "pasta norma" which has tomato...but you could omit that. it's like the cauliflower pasta recipe above, but with eggplant instead and no anchovies.

      yum, i'm getting hungry already!

      1. re: Sharon

        take cauliflower and cook til very soft; puree with some skim (or regular cream cheese), and thin with skim milk. sautee and caramelize some onions and garlic, then mix into the cauliflower puree along with whatever herbs you have on hand.

        1. re: Sharon

          I do this same thing but use broccoli instead of cauliflower. Just in case you're a small fish hater, when I ask people to identify the secret ingredient, they never guess anchovy--always think it's parmesan.

          1. re: Sharon

            I would take your recipe (ok Marcella's recipe) and roast the cauliflower in a little olive oil, season it well. Then I would add some breadcrumbs to the garlic and anchovies sauteing in the olive oil and then sprinkle it on top of the pasta and roasted cauliflower before I served it.

          2. How about a simple garlic and olive oil sauce? Add-ins could be steamed or sauteed fresh or frozen veggies and/or halved cherry or grape tomatoes - veggies in small pieces, cooked 'til tender. (Better yet if you've got left-overs in the fridge.) Perhaps topped with some shaved or grated cheese, a sprinkle of salt and a healthy grind of black pepper. If you like a little heat, toss in some red pepper flakes when sauteing the veggies.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Deenso

              One of my favorite pasta dishes is just a simple spaghetti with garlic and oil. Crush a few cloves of garlic and put it with some crushed red pepper and olive oil in a pan and turn the heat up to medium. Cook for a few minutes until the garlic turns light brown. Then add the cooked spaghetti and maybe a little of the pasta cooking water to thin out the sauce. I've also added some bread crumbs to the oil to get some crunchiness in the pasta.

            2. Olive oil, lemon juice whisked together with sliced green olives, diced roasted red peppers, parsely, garlic, salt, white pepper. This is good for hot pasta with cubes of fish or after it's cold as pasta salad.

              Cream cheese and roasted red peppers and cream (to thin), oregano, cayenne pepper and salt. Melt together and blend. Good with hot pasta and steak. Also can be used with pasta and vegetables.

              Juice from the drippings of pan-roasting a steak. Saute mushrooms (in another pan) in butter, add garlic, Cavendar's Greek spice. Add some cream cheese (or mascarpone) to the drippings and melt in and whisk smooth. Add the mushroom mixture. You can also do this with white onions with or in plkace of mushrooms. Good drizzled on mushroom ravioli with the steak. (If you need more beef drippings, use some canned beef consomme, but don't try it without real drippings and just the consomme).

              And, spinach is good as a side dish with both.

              Both of these recipes with allow diced fresh tomaotes to be stirred in just before serving without it seeming like a tomato pasta sauce. Tomatoes have lycopene and vitamin C.

              Alfredo sauce
              Pesto sauce

              Northen Italian recipes are often not tomato based.

              1 Reply
              1. re: kc girl

                What she said.
                Most Americans think that Italian food means pasta covered with red sauce but in truth it is not that way.
                One of my favorites is white wine and lemon, or a simple browned butter with garlic and herb of your choice.

              2. Drained canned tuna, capers, hot peppers, artichokes, EVO and pine nuts.

                3 Replies
                1. re: AimeeP

                  YES! I looove tuna as a pasta sauce. I don't add artichokes, but I will try it the next time. Usually it is tuna, capers, and parsley.

                  1. re: icey

                    Tuna and artichokes were made for each other!

                  2. re: AimeeP

                    Yum. could go for that right now!

                  3. One of my favorite non-tomato, uncooked sauces is EVOO, fresh basil shards, grated parmesan, S&P, and TONS of lemon zest. You obviously have to love lemons. I like to use either spaghetti or linguine. To make it more filling, you could add canned tuna or salmon.