Which pasta sauce do most pasta lovers prefer? Is it red or is it white? Are those the only two factors when picking out your favorite pasta sauce? The answer to that question is personal preference, but there are hundreds of variations of both red and white pasta sauces.
Some may say that red pasta sauces are heavier than white sauces but depending on the kind you make, this could not be further from the truth. Red sauces are typically tomato based or have some sort of tomato product in them like tomato paste. But as most chefs know, it only takes a few ingredients to make a delicious red sauce.
With olive oil, a few cloves of garlic, a can of San Marzano tomatoes, salt, and pepper, you can make a delicious sauce in no time. This simple sauce can be tossed with pasta, used in lasagna or chicken parm, or it can be used as a dipping sauce for mozzarella sticks. If you throw in a teaspoon of red chili flakes, this simple dish becomes a spicy “arrabbiata” sauce. Add a touch of vodka and cream to that sauce and its now a vodka sauce. The base sauce incredibly versatile and tasty on its own and can be added to make an immense amount of other sauces.
Other, more sophisticated tomato sauces tend to be the kinds that should cook over hours to develop deep flavors. Dishes like bolognese require a few hours and different types of meats to curate the perfect sauce. Instead of simple and delicious, this red sauce is rich and has deep flavors that all come together.
White sauces can be very light or creamy depending on the way you make them. White wine or lemon based sauces are very light. For example, the chicken piccata sauce is lemon-based and very light, tossed with angel hair pasta and parmesan cheese.
Cream based sauces make for the richest pasta dishes. Alfredo sauce is made with full-fat butter, heavy cream, and parmesan cheese served on top of thick fettuccine noodles and can be topped with a variety of proteins or veggies such as chicken, shrimp, or broccoli. The base of the sauce is very fatty, making the dish very heavy.
Another kind of heavy white sauce is carbonara. The carbonara sauce incorporates eggs beaten with parmesan and tossed with freshly boiled, hot pasta. The hot pasta cooks the eggs and cheese together emulsifying the ingredients rather than scrambling the eggs. After the pasta is tossed and plated, it is topped with pancetta and freshly ground black pepper.
Whether it’s a red seafood sauce or a white wine sauce, always make sure to heavily salt your pasta water, add cheese off the heat of the stove, and enjoy yourself while cooking and eating!