Can you pasta sauce please?
June 30, 2021 7:06 PM   Subscribe

Give me your amazing, would serve it at a dinner party, would have it as your last meal, favourite comfort food pasta recipes. Bonus points (but not essential) if it is dairy free.
posted by Jubey to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
There may be some ideas in this pasta sauce question from yesterday.
posted by andrewesque at 7:12 PM on June 30, 2021 [6 favorites]

Hands-down, this red sauce.

It smells like magic while it's cooking, cooking it in the oven means constant-temperature (vs. constant-input), and it combines "has cooked down & caramelized so much that it's threatening to burn" with "fresh & bright tomato flavor".

My threshold for a good-enough sauce is one that I sample it near the end and have to avoid just eating it with a spoon. This meets that readily.

(over time I've modified it, a glug of balsamic vinegar near the end here, some more pepper flakes there, but it's as I feel vs. anything consistent)
posted by CrystalDave at 7:14 PM on June 30, 2021 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Spaghetti with garlicky bread crumbs and anchovies (NYT link)

Knockout, and I think I actually did make this for a dinner party once. I don't normally have tabasco around the house but I've used sriracha and cholula instead, and they're both great. If I have some capers to finish off I might throw those in too.
posted by jameaterblues at 7:38 PM on June 30, 2021 [3 favorites]

I wouldn't serve this for a dinner party unless I made it ahead, since it's a solid day of work, but this site has been my Christmas recipe for many years: (I make a lasagna of my own recipe with the sauce, but it's great just over pasta along with the myriad meats involved.)

Lord Oscar grew up with his Italian grandmother's cooking, and he'd definitely request this for his last meal. I did an extra batch for his birthday last year when the pandemic made us sad and unable to go out.
posted by LadyOscar at 7:57 PM on June 30, 2021

I'd suggest homemade pasta!
posted by Red Desk at 10:05 PM on June 30, 2021

Best answer: Lasagne is the best dinner party pasta for several reasons and also the most delicious pasta. This is IMO the best recipe. Not dairy free, though.

I don't know if the dinner party issue is for real, or just a way to say it has to be gorgeous? If you want to serve pasta at dinner parties, you will perhaps want sturdier pasta-types. The reason lasagne is the best is that it has to rest, so the timing isn't an issue. With fresh pasta or thin pasta types, you can't really start cooking before everyone is seated, and then the cook won't be seated, obviously. For some people, that isn't a problem, but it is something to think about.

Over in the thread from yesterday, I mentioned penne with artichokes and peas, and after writing my comment, I made it, because it is one of the most delicious, healthy and easy to make pasta you can think of. And vegan, if that ever is an issue. I made a small mistake in my description yesterday, so here is the full recipe:
Set over the water to boil. Use a smallish amount, like a liter per cup of pasta.
For each serving, you need a 1/2 cup of penne, 50 grammes of grilled, marinated artichokes from a jar and 500 grammes of peas in the pod, shelled. If using frozen peas, I think 100-150 grammes will do well.
Shell the peas while bringing the water to the boil.
Put the peas and the artichokes cold in a large enough pan.
Cook the penne till just al dente (read the instructions on the package), and when they are ready, take about one cup of water per serving into the pan with the peas and artichokes and turn on the heat under it. Add in the drained pasta, and stir frequently, until the water has all but gone and pasta and vegetables are coated with a light creamy sauce. While stirring, season to taste with lemon juice, salt, black pepper and crushed chili flakes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley if you have it. Serve with grated pecorino for those who can eat it (I had run out of pecorino yesterday and can attest that it is still amazing without the cheese).
NOTA BENE: the more servings you have, the less pasta water you need for the sauce. I think for eight servings, I would only use six cups of pasta water. But in this case, it's a good idea to drain all of the pasta water over into a jug so you can adjust as needed.

This is a pasta dish that can be made shortly before guests arrive and then reheated before serving with a bit of reserved pasta water. Or just wait and be served at a bit above room temperature, as a "salad".
posted by mumimor at 2:02 AM on July 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Oh, now I forgot something again: you use the oil from the jar of artichokes in the sauce.
posted by mumimor at 2:15 AM on July 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Mumimor, no - it definitely doesn’t have to be for a real dinner party, I just want great recipes! Thank you for your detailed reply.
posted by Jubey at 2:32 AM on July 1, 2021

This one for marinara has always been a hit in my house. Fairly simple and fairly quick. I would highly recommend having an immersion blender, particularly if anyone at your "party" isn't a fan of chunky sauce.
posted by kuanes at 4:07 AM on July 1, 2021

I make a similar recipe to jameaterblues NYT's link, but use sundried tomatoes instead of anchiovies and omit the fish sauce.
posted by jennypower at 5:40 AM on July 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

I improvised this this meat sauce for pasta one evening when I scavenged the fridge for what to make for dinner. I’ve made it a number of times since, because, well, it’s delicious and easy:
• In 1 T of olive oil and 1 T of butter, sauté a diced onion with 2 T of tomato paste until the onion starts getting tender.
• Add 1 lb of Italian sausage (I’ve both used pork and turkey), and cook completely.
• Add about 1 T of crushed garlic (I use pre-crushed, but you certainly can crush or mince your own - maybe 4 cloves?). Cook about 30 seconds until fragrant.
• Add 1 cup of liquid (I’ve used white wine, beer, and cider) and 1 t of chicken bullion concentrate Better-than-Bouillon (or I suppose a bouillon cube would work). Cook about 5 minutes. (I suppose you could add a whole cup of chicken stock instead, but you won’t have the flavor of the liquid).
• Thicken with about a 1/4 cup of sour cream (I imagine dairy-free sour cream would work too), and optionally about 2 t of minced basil (I’ve been using preminced basil in a tube).
• Serve over your favorite pasta.
posted by ShooBoo at 7:51 AM on July 1, 2021

The key to amazing pasta sauce is amazing fresh tomatoes. If you have to use canned, San Marzano is probably the best.

Not sure where in the world you are, but in the Southeast United States we're getting into peak tomato season. You want to buy a few pounds of beautiful vine ripened heirloom tomatoes from a roadside stand, farmer's market, or local farm.

Chop up one large onion add to a large stockpot/Dutch oven, add 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil, big pinch of salt, and a couple grinds of pepper. Turn the temperature up to medium high, and cook the onion until very dark -- on the verge of burning.

Cut your tomatoes in half removing any hard stem parts, add the tomatoes to the pot and squash them down a bit. Add several basil leaves to the pot, a pinch of oregano, and a pinch of rosemary (fresh herbs if possible). Add couple of cloves of garlic, crushed.

Stir often scraping the bottom to make sure things aren't sticking, after about 30 minutes the tomatoes will start to break down.

Using an immersion blender/regular blender blend the sauce briefly, you still want some chunks but small chunks.

Cook for an additional 30 minutes stirring often. The sauce should be reducing nicely, you want it to be thick enough that if you put a spoon of it on a plate it would maintain some shape and not flow like a liquid.

Continue cooking until the sauce is appropriately thickened, depending on the tomatoes you used it might be 1-2 hours total cooking time. Taste the sauce, and add salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.

Use fresh or keep in the fridge for a few days or freeze for maybe half a year.
posted by gregr at 7:59 AM on July 1, 2021

Marcella Hazan's bolognese (also in her Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, and all over the Internet) is by far the best pasta sauce I have ever made. It does contain some milk that is fully simmered down, however. Very simple to make but the key ingredient is time. You cannot shortcut the long simmering time--it comes into it's full flavor after the long simmer, and tastes merely okay until the end. I make a double recipe and freeze what I don't eat. I also use it when I make lasagne.
posted by lovecrafty at 8:48 AM on July 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

I make the basic Hazan sauce of tomato puree, several Tbsp. butter, and half an onion, simmered until slightly reduced and the onion is soft. Slick, sweet, and plain, good over whatever.

Otherwise I like pasta with bacon and peas. Tempeh bacon would probably work if you want to stay vegan. Cook the pasta in a pot, cook the bacon in the pan, drain bacon and chop. Add peas (frozen is fine) to the pasta water for the last minute or two. Drain them, reserving a cup or less of pasta water, then toss bacon in, adding a glug or 2 of olive oil and some pasta water. Mix, add pepper and salt (watch the salt, you already have bacon) and parmesan. Stir until nice and creamy and sticky. Serve with more pepper and parmesan. I know there's a vegan parm option somewhere, right?
posted by Lawn Beaver at 9:49 AM on July 1, 2021

Pasta Alla Norma roasted eggplant, tomato, ricotta salatta- don’t forget basil & parsley!

Zuni Cafe Pasta with Spicy Broccoli & Cauliflower-
No, I’m serious! Major flavor, would be a killer dinner party or weeknight dish.

Pesto- My personal Fave. Great for a cold pasta salad too!

Walnut Miso Noodles- I make this super easy sauce in double batches and put it on everything! I also use red miso or half red half white, adds much more flavor! Dairy free bonus points for this one!
Oh, and if you have access to Rao’s jarred sauces, literally any one of them, they are heavenly and I haven’t made tomato sauce since I found them. Genuinely elevates any pasta dish!
posted by Champagne Supernova at 2:44 PM on July 1, 2021

Best answer: Pesto and Shrimp on spaghetti. It is simple: Use prepared pesto if you want but I pound fresh basil and garlic in a stone mortar. You can add pine nuts if you want for the classic Genoese pesto but not really necessary - or add a few blanched, skinned almonds for Sicilian style pesto - then add some olive oil. Cook spaghetti. Saute shrimp in olive oil in a pan, add pesto, add cooked spaghetti, toss with a few spoons of the water from the spaghetti. (Tip: don't use a big soup pot to cook your pasta. A saute or frying pan will do the trick, the water will boil faster and since you use less water it will be starchier, better for adding to pasta sauces..) Serve withrated parmesan cheese or no cheese at all.
posted by zaelic at 4:58 AM on July 3, 2021

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