Traditional Italian Pasta Sauces are Still the Best
Traditional Italian sauces for pasta, however, are still the yardstick by which all these newer sauces are measured. While the recipes for traditional or authentic pasta sauces are not set in stone, there is some agreement on how they should look and taste. By any account, each is worth a taste or an attempt in the kitchen.
Here are seven of the best Italian sauces for pasta that are fairly simple to make, truly authentic and incredibly delicious.
Pomorola - The Classic Italian Tomato Sauce
There are any number of variations on the traditional Italian tomato sauce but he basic sauce is always the same. It is a simple combination of pureed tomatoes, garlic and a mirepoix sautéed in olive oil and then highlighted by the addition of bay leaves. This sauce can be served as is over pasta but most chefs prefer to add some basil, oregano and red wine for a more “Italian” taste.
Marinara - A Touch of the Sea
Its creation is attributed to the sailors of the southern Italian city of Naples after the introduction of the tomato by Spanish sailors. Authentic Italian marinara takes the traditional Italian tomato sauce and adds capers, olives and sometimes a variety of fresh seafood. It should not be confused with the red sauce or “gravy” known as marinara in the cities of the American northeast. Italian marinara dishes, especially those made with fish , crustaceans or mollusks pair well with a variety of lighter red wines such as Dolcetto or a Montepulciano.
For Hot and Fiery Fanatics - Arrabbiata Sauce
If you are looking for a hot and spicy alternative to the usual tomato sauce for pasta, try Sugo all’Arrabbiata. It is customarily served over penne, rigatoni or other cylinder shaped pastas. Naturally, dishes that incorporate this sauce should be accompanied by a robust wine like Chianti especially the Chianti Classico versions. (It’s even better if you can find a decent vintage in a straw covered bottle. Look for the rooster on the wine cork.)
Rich and Creamy - Bolognese Sauce
The people of Bologna have been serving one of the most famous meat-based sauces for pasta, Ragu all
Ragù alla Bolognese is traditionally served over taleteller or fettuccine and makes an unusually good, Italian inspired, substitute in any lasagna recipe for the usual French sauce, Béchamel. The bright fruity flavor of a Sangiovese is an excellent counterpoint to any dish containing this rich, earthy sauce.
Considered the most recently invented of the traditional Italian pasta sauces, Vodka sauce is still a favorite among the young. The putative reason for the vodka in the recipe is to release the latent flavors of the tomato that are not otherwise available. Most Italian chefs are reticent on the subject and point to the inclusion of wine in many traditional recipes. In other words, it is considered a tawdry substitute for a proper Chianti and a mere marketing ploy.
Still, the recipe for Penne alla Vodka has enjoyed world wide success and can be found on the menus of Italian restaurants everywhere. It is a simple combination of tomatos, garlic, basil and vodka and finished with some heavy cream. The majority of the alcohol is evaporated before the dish is finished and should leave the natural taste of the other ingredients behind. It is typically served with a Bud Light.
A Sauce with Roman Roots - Amatriciano
The Romans enjoyed gricia as a mixture of dried pork jowl meat, guanciale, and pecorino cheese. More modern Italian chefs added tomatoes in the late 17th century to enhance the texture and flavor of the dish. Guanciale is still used in Italy, but pancetta is a widely available and suitable substitute.
The current fashion is to serve Bucatini all'Amatriciana. Bucatini is a large diameter, solid pasta similar to spaghetti and balances the solid flavors and texture of the pork, cheese and tomatoes of the sauce. Medium bodied wines such as Barberas are excellent accompaniments to this fine sauce.
A Truly Worthy Addition - Carbonara Sauce
Te modern dish starts with pancetta fried in olive oil and previously prepared pasta. When the both are ready, the cooked pasta is introduced to pan to finish the cooking. Finally, a mixture of beaten eggs, Romano & Pecorino cheeses and butter or cream is added to the pan. It takes some skill to keep the ingredients, specifically the eggs, from curdling but the result is a creamy textured sauce that firmly clings to the pasta.
While the modern dish is comprised of pasta with a pork laced sauced, it is not technically considered a sauce as the pasta is incorporated as the dish is prepared. Nevertheless, the name “carbonara” has become synonymous with the sauce that graces this wonderful dish. The pasta used is typically fettuccine or pappardelle.