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Italian Cuisine 101: Italian Sauces

Italian sauces

We may be biased, but we’re pretty sure Italian cuisine has the best sauces.

In Italian cooking, it isn’t the tender homemade pasta, crispy meat, or savory roasted vegetable that makes a meal—it’s the sauce. Many people think that sauces have to be complicated, after all, how can Grandma’s marinara (or Sunday Sauce) taste so good if it doesn’t take much effort? Luckily, Italian sauces are incredibly delicious and incredibly easy to make. Here are some of the classic Italian sauces you should master to make your stomach happy, and maybe slightly bigger.


The sauce most synonymous with Italian cooking is the classic marinara sauce. It’s absolutely mouthwatering. Studded with pieces of garlic and onion, fragrant with basil, and bursting with ripe tomatoes, marinara is the perfect sauce for whatever you’re cooking up.  To make a southern Italian version of marinara, which boils down to no butter and no onions, heat olive oil in a large skillet, add peeled and slivered garlic, San Marzano tomatoes, salt, red pepper flakes, and basil. Simmer all of the ingredients together and spoon over your favorite fresh pasta.

Classic Pesto

Pesto is a bright and fragrant burst of flavor. Whether you use it as a spread for your warm tomato mozzarella Panini or as a dash of flavor on top of a bowl of linguine, it is the perfect sauce for summer. While many people purchase it in jars at the supermarket, there is no comparison for making it fresh! Pesto is simply basil leaves (de-stemmed), pine nuts or walnuts, garlic, and olive oil mixed together in a food processor to the proper consistency. You’re only a few pulses away from a beautiful bright sauce.

Fettuccine Alfredo

Fettuccine alfredo is known for being a heavy, gut-buster of a sauce. However, American alfredo is not anything like the beautiful, rich, smooth alfredo of authentic Italian food. There is nothing too fancy about this sauce, despite the final impressive and silky product. To make alfredo, sauté garlic in butter, add in cream and an egg yolk and mix it together. Once your pasta or add-in is finished cooking, pour the pasta into the cream mixture and toss to coat, adding in freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and topping with salt and cracked pepper.

Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce

The final sauce you should master this summer is the simplest of all. Made famous by Marcella Hazan, the Julia Child of Italian food, it is incredibly easy to make and unbelievably delicious. Simply combine 2 cups of San Marzano tomatoes with 5 tablespoons of butter and one peeled and halved onion together in a saucepan and cook for 45 minutes. That’s all! Discard the onion before using the sauce and resist the urge to drink it before it makes it to the table.

Enjoy Classic Italian Sauces at Basta Pasta

For over 12 years, Basta Pasta has been providing Marylanders with delicious Italian specials cooked from fresh, delicious, high-quality ingredients. Enjoy a taste of classic Italian food with spectacular pasta dishes, unlimited salad and breadsticks, and sumptuous fine wines. To make a reservation at our Timonium location, contact us online or give us a call at (410) 308-0838. To make a reservation at our Fallston location, contact us online or give us a call at (410) 692-5200. To find out more about our menu, follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

This entry was posted on Friday, July 8th, 2016 at 2:41 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.