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sauce for fresh pasta?

My husband has decided he wants to make fresh pasta for Christmas, and I'm in charge of the sauce. He hasn't decided, but I think he'll make a basic linguine.

Any suggestions for sauces? I'm thinking of making possibly two, one red, and one, uh, not. I'd love ideas, as I don't think I'll have time to get to the library to check out recipes beforehand! We cook often, but tend towards more spice based cuisines (Indian, Mexican, Thai, etc.) so I'm eager for sugggestions!

Many, many thanks!!


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  1. This is a great spicy sauce, we love it.


    The pasta and sauce cook in just about the same amount of time. If you like the fruitiness of extra-virgin olive oil, toss 1 tablespoon into the sauced pasta before serving.

    3 medium cloves garlic, minced to paste or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
    1 pound spaghetti
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1/4 to 1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
    4 teaspoons minced anchovies (about 8 fillets)
    1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained, 1/2 cup juice reserved
    3 tablespoons capers, rinsed
    1/2 cup black olives (such as gaeta, alfonso, or kalamata), pitted and chopped coarse
    1⁄4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

    1. Bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil in large pot. Meanwhile, mix garlic with 1 tablespoon water in small bowl; set aside. When water is boiling, add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta; stir to separate noodles. Immediately heat oil, garlic mixture, hot red pepper flakes, and anchovies in large sauté pan or skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is fragrant but not browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and simmer until slightly thickened, about 8 minutes.

    2. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain, then return pasta to pot. Add 1/4 cup reserved tomato juice and toss to combine.

    3. Stir capers, olives, and parsley into sauce. Pour sauce over pasta and toss to combine, adding more tomato juice to moisten if necessary. Adjust seasonings with salt to taste and serve immediately. Serves 4.

    Recipe adapted from America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Illustrated Magazine

    2 Replies
    1. re: mcel215

      One note: while dried pasta will cook in about the same amount of time as the sauce, fresh pasta will probably take about 2-3 minutes.

      Two ideas for a non-tomato sauce: a simple pesto, or a carbonara. Unless you really like garlic, the pesto along with the puttanesca might be too much of a good thing. The carbonara sauce would be more of a contrast.

      1. re: mcel215

        This sounds fantastic, I'll definitely give this recpie a try!

      2. I would do a hearty meat sauce: Brown hot and sweet Italian sausages and a pork chop or two in olive oil in a big pot. Once nicely browned, add garlic, let that get golden, then add canned tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper, and fresh parsley. Let cook down for at least 2-3 hours, preferably longer, till pork falls apart (make sure to fish out bones).

        You could also make some meatballs to cook in the sauce. Mix ground beef with bread crumbs, romano cheese, egg, parsley, salt, pepper, and some crushed garlic. Add a spoonful or two of the sauce. Roll into balls and drop carefully into the sauce. Cook at least 20 minutes.

        When ready to serve, use a slotted spoon to remove the meat to a separate bowl. Mix cooked pasta with the sauce. Pass around bowls of meat and extra sauce at the table.

        1. If you're going to the trouble to make the pasta, it should be the center of your dish. Is this a pasta course, or the main part of the meal? Either way, the freshest/best ingredients you can find. I'd go with something light like a cream sauce with a touch of tomato (Muir Glen fire-roasted diced tomatoes are great, whisk them thru the blender or food processor for a sec) - saute a little garlic in EVOO (low temp it burns quick), add the tomatoes, a little white wine, let it simmer a few minutes then add cream, light or heavy it's up to you, heat through & serve; a pinch of nutmeg at the end is nice. You could add a little fresh prosciutto here, or spinach, simmer a few minutes to wilt. For a bigger course, saute some fresh seafood (shrimp, scallops) & add with the cream, skip the nutmeg, maybe add a little grated lemon peel. Without seafood, serve & pass fresh grated parmiggiano; with seafood forget the cheese. Don't forget fresh pasta will cook in probably less than 5 minutes. Enjoy!

          1 Reply
          1. re: bkath

            'saute a little garlic in EVOO (low temp it burns quick)'

            I started buying bags of peeled garlic cloves at the local farmer's market and then throwing it in the freezer. Much more leeway with burning. Of course you can't really slice it when it's frozen, I use once of those nut choppers that you pound the top of and the blades chop ot up nice.

          2. I agree with the comment that the pasta should be the star. When I make fresh pastas, my favorite sauces are light - alfredo or pesto, or simple variations, are always good. Serve the pasta as they do in Italy, light on the sauce, and your husband's pasta will get the attention it deserves.

            1. You know sljones, these days, more often than a red sauce I love aglio-olio and it goes reallllly well on nice fresh flat linguini. For a pound of pasta, use a 1/3 cup of olive oil, 4 garlic cloves (or 5, or 6, or...) crushed, (ideally freshly ground) sea salt and black pepper, a few shakes of red pepper flakes and some fresh parsley, diced fine. In a frying pan, you saute the garlic in the oil just a bit, add the seasonings (except parsley), add the linguini to the aglio olio, toss it a bit, and serve sprinkled with parsley and the freshly grated cheese of your choice (Parmesan? Romano?) SOOO Good.

              Or, as MFK Fisher wrote, nobody ever complained when I served pasta tossed with fresh butter, salt and pepper. But I vote for aglio olio.

              1. Oops, I meant to reply earlier but looks like it didn't go through....

                These are all great ideas, many thanks! I love the idea of a nice fresh sauce, and I must make a red sauce for the kids. I myself prefer olive oil and garlic, or even good butter and great cheese, but we have a picky teen who demands red sauce, and lots of it! Thanks for the wonderful suggestions, I'm sure everything will be a hit!


                4 Replies
                1. re: sljones

                  That very simple Marcella sauce of just tomato, butter and half an onion could be very good. It is on my list to make this week. Maybe tomorrow night. Flavor is wonderful and very uncomplicated. It would show off fresh pasta beautifully.

                  1. re: Candy

                    I have seen this recipe, but admit I am still dubiuos. Could something really so simple really be so good? What "makes" the sauce? I love the idea of something light, after weeks of heavy eating, and more big meals to come.

                    1. re: Candy

                      this is delicious... so simple and is perfect for fresh linguine!... 1 med onion chopped 2 cloves garlic (minced) saute in 2 T butter until translucent. Add 1/2 c wht wine and small can diced tomatoes, s & p and simmer 10 mins... pulverize (you can leave some bit of chunkiness add remaining 6 T butter and chopped fresh basil, plash of heavy cream if desired, but not needed. Make this sauce in bottom of a larger pan and when pasta is done (3mins) toss around in sauce and serve with grated locatelli cheese and pepper flakes... so, so good!

                      1. re: Candy

                        this is delicious... so simple and is perfect for fresh linguine!... 1 med onion chopped 2 cloves garlic (minced) saute in 2 T butter until translucent. Add 1/2 c wht wine and small can diced tomatoes, s & p and simmer 10 mins... pulverize (you can leave some bit of chunkiness add remaining 6 T butter and chopped fresh basil, plash of heavy cream if desired, but not needed. Make this sauce in bottom of a larger pan and when pasta is done (3mins) toss around in sauce and serve with grated locatelli cheese and pepper flakes... so, so good!

                    2. My late in-laws traditionally served linguine aglio e olio on Christmas eve. That was at a time when Roman Catholics were expected to fast (not eat meat) on the 'Vigilia di Natale.' That was sliced garlic cloves sauteed in olive oil, and poured over the pasta.

                      My wife has enhanced this dish by adding halved fresh grape tomatoes, steamed broccoli florets, and toasted pignoli (pine nuts) to the dish.

                      1. we make fresh pasta quite a bit at home and frequently we like the red/white combo too. Sometimes I just start out with a basic red sauce, muir glen tomatoes in the can are far better for sauce than fresh, garlic, onion...once i have that sauce done - if i am rushed for time, i grab a quality jarred cream sauce and blend the two to taste. then i add fresh herbes.

                        1. One that is a little different but really good this time of year as it uses bitter greens:

                          6 oz pancetta
                          2 tbls olive oil
                          2 oz butter
                          2 small red onions, peeled and sliced
                          2 tbls fresh thyme leaves
                          4 garlic cloves peeled and sliced
                          dried chili flakes to taste
                          18 oz trevise or red radicchio, finely sliced
                          18 oz chicory, sliced (or another hearty bitter green)
                          2.5 oz white wine
                          5 oz chicken stock
                          paremesan to taste
                          9 oz tagliarini - or some similar shape
                          salt and pepper

                          1. fry the pancetta in 1/2 the oil and the butter ntil it begins to color, add the onion and time and cook about 5 minutes until onion is lightly brown.
                          2. Add garlic, chili flakes and oil, stir and add chicory and trevise. Stir until trevise wilts.
                          3. Add white wine, stock - boil and simmer gently for 20 minutes to thicken. Stir in about 2 oz.s parmesean.
                          4. Salt and pepper to taste.
                          Cook pasta, drain, stir into the sauce. Add remaining parmesean - serve

                          The vegetable take on an amazing flavor - the are slightly sweet. The whole dish is sweet, salty and spicy.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ptrefler

                            I'm always looking for new and interesting ways to incorporate bitter greens. My husband didn't use to think he liked them, until I started slipping them in dishes. This sounds great, we'll have to give it a try!

                          2. Toss the pasta with some caviar and a little sour cream, and sprinkle with finely chopped Italian parsley and freshly ground pepper.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: kittyfood

                              That sounds tasty (and simple), I'm going to have to try that.

                            2. A rustic, meaty pork sauce (or wild boar, to get a bit more dramatic for the holiday) is perfect on fresh pasta. Classic. As posted above, just a little sauce is needed. The noodles will be delicious almost on their own. Another idea: since it's Christmas, if you want to splurge and if you can find a truffle...? Buy a mix of great mushrooms, cook them in olive oil, truffle oil, garlic, wine or stock, and I like a bit of sage. Cook pasta 2-3 mins until done, combine in the pan with mushrooms and shave fresh truffle right in the pan. Once you bring the whole dish to the table, shave a fresh truffle over the platter again, and even again over each individual plate. Fabulous. Even without a truffle, I make this with just truffle oil and mushrooms and fresh pasta, and haven't gotten a complaint yet.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: garlicbreath

                                Oooh, I would consider a truffle, now is the time to splurge, as you say!

                              2. There is nothing better with fresh pasta than Marcella Hazan's Bolognese Sauce. Here is a long but entertaining thread on this board in homage to it. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/331828 If you go with it, I'd suggest cutting the pasta a little wider - tagliatetelle. I get a craving for and make this at least once a month and it wows them everytime.

                                1. How about a simple carbonara for your non-red sauce? I succesfully made it like this last week:

                                  beat 2 eggs by hand and mix in 3/4 C heavy cream, 1/4 C good parmesan, and a generous amount of salt and pepper. let stand at room temp.

                                  meanwhile, fry some bacon lardons or pancetta with some sliced mushrooms and drain excess fat from pan. when pasta is cooked, toss it in the frying pan, off the heat, and incorporate the egg mixture. toss with a little extra parmesan and pepper. The sauce should be velvety-smooth and just coat the pasta.