Ever wondered how to make the perfect plate of pasta? The first thing that comes to mind is spaghetti with marinara, but there is so much beyond that that can take your pasta dish to the next level.  And the best way to get there? Choosing the right sauce. You may think why is the pasta you are making not as good as the ones in the Italian Restaurants. Well, the answer is the sauce. There is a vast world of pasta sauces, and as a cooking rookie seeing all of the choices might be a bit overwhelming.  So, to make it easier here is a breakdown of 5 sauces to start your quest to improve your next pasta adventure.

Pesto: Pesto sauce is a beautiful green color, adding a pop of artistry to a plate.  Pesto is traditionally made with basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and parmesan cheese.  The body of the sauce is defined by the oil, and it is a great sauce to pair with more textured kinds of pasta such as Rotini, Penne, or Fusilli so that the sauce can nuzzle into the shapes of the pasta.  If you are looking for a healthy alternative, avocado pesto is your best bet.  The healthy fats and creamy texture of the avocado can be used to help reduce the amount of olive oil used, which can add up pretty quick.  Combine a ripe avocado with basil and pine nuts and voila! You have a healthy avocado pesto to fit into your diet and lifestyle. 

Carbonara:  Carbonara is a rich, creamy sauce that is paired with longer pasta such as Fettuccine, Spaghetti, or Angel hair.  It is made with pancetta, egg yolks, heavy cream, garlic, and a lot of black pepper. This is a quick sauce to make, but tricky given the inclusion of egg yolks.  As part of the cooking process, we want to ensure that the eggs are not scrambled as that would ruin the texture of the dish.  This is a delicate process but if done right it will be the perfect addition to a hearty meal. 

Aglio a Olio:  Literally translating to “Garlic and Olive oil” in Italian, Aglio a Olio is a quick, light, easy-to-make sauce.  It includes simple ingredients: Garlic, Olive oil, red pepper flakes, and optionally anchovy sauce, parmesan cheese, and parsley.  All you need to do is heat a pan or large skillet of olive oil, add in the garlic and red pepper flakes, stir in your pasta of choice and garnish with parsley, parmesan cheese, or both.  This sauce can be paired with any kind of pasta, but is usually found paired with longer types such as angel hair or spaghetti. Simple, easy, and tasty – sure to be a hit at the dinner table or a party. 

Pomodoro: Pomodoro adds a pop of flavor that lights up any pasta dish.  Pomodoro is made with tomato, basil, garlic, and olive oil. It is a light sauce compared to its other tomato-based sister, marinara – it gently coats the pasta that it is added to, not meant to be front and center in the dish.  It is a very versatile sauce that can be added to dishes other than pasta, such as gnocchi or chicken parmesan.  It can also be made in advance in bulk and be used to top multiple dishes throughout the week. 

These sauces are just the tip of the iceberg.  There is a vast variety out there if you are looking to experiment – meat-based (Ragu or Bolognese), tomato-based (Marinara), cheese and cream-based (Cacio e Pepe or Alfredo), and each with a delicate balance of ingredients and cooking procedure.  However, with these sauces now in your arsenal, your next pasta adventure will hopefully be taken to the next level!