Macaroni, spaghetti, noodles, tortellini, ravioli… The possibilities with pasta are endless, and many people would love to eat a pasta dish with one sauce or another every day. There’s life beyond Neapolitan, Bolognese and carbonara sauces, though: simply open the fridge door and see what you’ve got inside to use as the ingredients for a light, healthy, simple but delicious sauce.
These six sauces should help you rekindle your love for pasta and make the most of its many varieties, safe in the knowledge that you’re eating good, healthy food. Pasta works just as well in a packed lunch as for a family dinner, spring picnic or get-together with friends: just let your imagination run wild and pick and mix different kinds of pasta and sauces at will. But don’t stop at these recipes… come up with some of your own!
Lemon and walnut sauce
This healthy, balanced sauce combines the carbohydrates in pasta with the vitamins in lemons and the iron and protein in walnuts. In 5 minutes you’ll have the prefect alternative for a quick and easy lunch or sandwich when you’re pressed for time. Gently fry a chopped onion in a little extra-virgin olive oil and when it has turned soft and golden, add the walnuts. Cook for a few minutes, add the juice of a lemon, salt and pepper and, if you like, some herbs and spices (a pinch of coriander will give it an exotic touch). Add the sauce to some al dente pasta, such as penne rigate.
Garlic and oil sauce
The classic Italian all’aglio e olio never fails. All you need is a pinch of fresh oregano and some decent Parmesan to make a dish fit for a king. Simply lightly fry some crushed or chopped garlic (you can fish any bits out later) in a frying pan with some extra-virgin olive oil over a low heat. When they have turned golden, add some cooked spaghetti and grate some Parmesan cheese on top.
Tomato and basil sauce
Another classic, but only if you use tasty fresh ingredients! Blanch, peel and deseed the tomatoes and then fry them in extra-virgin olive oil with some garlic and onions. Add some whole fresh basil leaves at the end. It’s the perfect sauce for lots of different kinds of pasta, although gnocchi are the perfect partner for this light and simple sauce.
Forget about traditional pesto, and even red pesto with beetroot, for a minute and try pistachio pesto instead. Simply replace the pine nuts with pistachio nuts and make the pesto as normal: crush all the ingredients together with a dash of extra-virgin olive oil, garlic and basil using a pestle and mortar or food processor. You could put the pistachios through the grinder first to make things easier if you want. This highly versatile sauce works wonders with any type of pasta.
Call by the fish shop on the way home and pick up some fresh clams. Boil some spaghetti (the best type of pasta for clams by far) while you make the sauce. Carefully wash the clams (throwing away any that don’t open) and boil. Gently fry a clove of garlic in a good dash of extra-virgin olive oil and add the cooked clams, some parsley and a ladleful of the water used to boil the clams. Spoon the sauce over the spaghetti and you’ll have a delicious pasta dish with a taste of the sea.
This handy recipe is a great way to use up any old bread. Grind up any bits of old bread you’ve got left over and fry in some extra-virgin olive oil and garlic. You can also add some sweet paprika, oregano, basil or any other herb you like.