Navigating through the world of pasta can be an adventure on its own, with so many shapes and a vast array of sauces to choose from. It’s no wonder that we spend more time finding the perfect sauce, pasta recipes and shapes than actually making the dish. So, for all those times when you just want to sit back and relax with a bottle of wine (what best to pair the pasta with), we have got you covered.
Here’s a list of five best pasta sauces and their ideal partners which will leave you going Mamma Mia!
1. Classic marinara sauce
Originating in the southern regions of Italy in the 16th century, where tomatoes were first introduced to Europe, this is a popular sauce known for its simplicity and vibrant flavours. It is a fundamental sauce used in various Italian dishes and serves as a base for many pasta recipes. The pasta ingredients typically include tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, herbs (such as basil and oregano), salt, and pepper.
The simplicity of marinara shines with long, thin strands, allowing the rich tomato-based sauce to coat every inch of the pasta. The ideal pasta to pair it with would be spaghetti, linguine or angel hair.
2. Creamy Alfredo sauce
The sauce, originally known as 'Fettuccine Alfredo', was named after Alfredo di Lelio, an Italian restaurateur who first created it in Rome in the early 20th century for his wife who had lost her appetite after giving birth as per the legends. Initially, it was a simple combination of butter and Parmesan cheese, tossed with fettuccine pasta. Over time, the pasta recipe evolved to include cream, garlic, and other ingredients to enhance its velvety texture and flavour. Some pasta recipes might also call for nutmeg or other seasonings to enhance the flavour.
Now, as suggested by its name, fettuccine pasta will be the best pasta to be paired here because of the sturdiness that can hold up to its creamy texture but for other options, you can also try penne rigate, orecchiette or rigatoni.
3. Spicy arrabbiata sauce
With its roots present in traditional Italian cuisine, it is a fiery and flavourful pasta sauce that hails from the Lazio region of Italy. While marinara and arrabbiata both share a tomato base, arrabbiata distinguishes itself with the addition and to add a liberal use of red chilli peppers, which infuse the sauce with a bold and spicy flavour. The base ingredients of this sauce typically include tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, red chilli peppers or red pepper flakes, and salt. Rigatoni, ziti or cavatappi will be the perfect match for this rich sauce.
4. Bolognese meat sauce
Also known as Ragu alla Bolognese, this is a rich and hearty pasta sauce deeply rooted in Italian culinary history and is believed to have originated in the city of Bologna in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy in around the 18th century. The classic Bolognese sauce is made with a combination of minced or ground meat (traditionally beef or a mixture of beef and pork), onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes, tomato paste, wine (usually red wine), milk, broth, and a touch of nutmeg. To best capture these hearty sauces, tagliatelle and pappardelle or shells and orecchiette will be the perfect kind of pasta shapes.
5. Pesto sauce
This is a creamy and flavorful green pasta sauce, renowned for its fresh and herbaceous taste, which originates from the Liguria region of northern Italy. The traditional Genovese pesto pasta recipe includes fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, Pecorino cheese, olive oil, and a pinch of salt. These ingredients are combined and crushed together to create a thick and aromatic green sauce. Although genovese pesto is the most well-known, there are also regional variations of pesto throughout Italy. For example, in Sicily, pesto is made with tomatoes and almonds, creating a red pesto known as 'Pesto Rosso'. The best pasta pairing with pesto sauce is typically a trofie or farfalle (bowtie) pasta shape as it can hold the sauce well.