Three healthy, decadent toppers for your pasta-eating pleasure.

By By the editors of Shape.com
Updated: November 23, 2017
Photo: Ted Cavanaugh

Your first step in making a homemade pasta sauce is to hunt down the highest-quality ingredients that you can, says Nathaniel Cayer, the executive chef at Dolce Italian in Chicago. "San Marzano canned tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil, farm-fresh vegetables: These are the building blocks that make a great dish." (Even better if you pair it with one of these 7 pastas more nutritious than plain noodles.) Then, just play around to invent new flavors-swap red wine for rosé or ground beef for lamb. That's how Cayer creates sauces so good, you want to eat them right out of the pot. He shares some of his favorite creations below. (Check out these healthy Italian recipes that won't put you in a food coma.)

Truffle Pan Sauce

Sauté garlic and shallots in olive oil, then shave truffles (fresh or canned) into the pan. When the smell is intense, add chicken stock, butter, chives, lemon juice, and salt and pepper; cook until it's silky. Serve with a filled pasta like cappelletti or tortellini to add another dimension.

Beet Pesto

Use a high-powered blender to puree raw beets, basil or parsley, walnuts, orange juice, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Toss it with fusilli; the twisted shape will grab onto the sauce.

Lamb Ragu

Brown ground lamb and take it out of the pan, then sauté mirepoix (chopped celery, carrot, and onion) with garlic, sage, bay leaf, rosemary, and thyme in the juices. Add the meat back with a touch of tomato paste, then add wine, stock, oregano, and cinnamon; simmer for an hour, then season with salt and pepper. Serve with rigatoni.

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