Top 10 Fabulous Sauces For Pasta - In Less Than 10 Minutes Each!

Get recipes for ten quick and easy pasta sauces that you can make in under ten minutes: Bolognese, Pesto, Alfredo, Arrabiatta, Clam, and more.

There's a dirty little secret to preparing delicious quick and easy pasta sauce. You must have certain items on hand at all times in order to cheat. In order for a tomato-based pasta sauce to have any flavor, the ingredients MUST mingle and simmer for an hour or more. There is no substitute for slow simmering if you want a flavorful sauce.

How to cheat without getting caught

Since we have a ten-minute time limit, you will have to "cheat." You must start with a base that has been properly prepared and slow-simmered. Use one of the following for your sauce base.

* Use the very best commercially prepared tomato-based pasta sauce money can buy, preferably one using whole crushed tomatoes. Experiment until you find one that's lightly seasoned, without any additional ingredients such as meat, mushrooms, peppers, etc. Most commercial pasta sauces contain a minimum of garlic and spices in order to remain marketable to a large segment of the population. That serves our purpose well.

* Use your own homemade tomato-based pasta sauce, stored in serving-size containers in your freezer. The good news is that the prep time for the sauce is approximately ten minutes. It's the simmering that you cannot rush. You do not need to babysit the sauce--except to stir and taste test. If you prepare your own base tomato sauce, you may not need to add some of the ingredients in the recipes. You can omit ingredients as necessary.

You need to stock several other ingredients, fully prepared and ready to use on a moment's notice:

* Garlic - No self-respecting cook would be caught dead without a ready supply of minced garlic. You can buy commercially prepared minced garlic to store in the refrigerator, or you can mince fresh garlic ahead of time and store it in a bottle completely covered in virgin or extra virgin olive oil in the refrigerator indefinitely.

* Fresh frozen basil - Purchase fresh basil or grow your own. Wash basil, tear off the individual leaves, and store in ice cube trays, covered with water. To use, simply pop out the appropriate number of ice cubes and defrost.

* Parmesan cheese - You can grate the cheese ahead of time and store in the freezer in an airtight container. Parmigiano-Reggiano is the ultimate Parmesan cheese.

* Olive oil - Be sure to keep a high quality virgin or extra virgin olive oil on hand.

* All-purpose seasoning mixture - Emeril's Essence or something similar adds a nice "finishing touch" to just about any recipe.

This list of ingredients is not complete, but you will need them for many basic pasta sauce recipes.

Two counter-top appliances are essential for creating at least one of these recipes in ten minutes or less:

* Food Processor - You'll need the food processor to create pesto sauce from scratch. The time limitation rules out a mortar and pestle, even if you have the patience for such time-honored, traditional methods of pounding ingredients.

* Microwave - You'll need to cook bacon in the microwave in order to meet the ten-minute time limitation.

Now that you have the essential ingredient cheats and appliances ready to press into service, let's get started.

Special Notes:

* Measure and prepare all ingredients before assembling them.

* Add ingredients for tomato-based sauces "to taste." The amount needed will vary depending on how much flavor the base contains.

* Here is a tip borrowed from the pros that is sure to help you make the perfect tomato-based sauce. Sometimes there is some little something missing, and it's almost impossible to tell what it is. When a tomato-based sauce is not quite right, and you have no idea what is missing, try adding 1/2 teaspoon of sugar to the sauce.

Bolognese

2 cups tomato sauce base

1 pound combination of two or more ground or chopped meats, such as ground beef, ground pork, chopped smoked ham



1 tablespoon olive oil

Chopped onion to taste

Minced garlic to taste

Oregano to taste

Basil to taste

Emeril's Essence or similar all-purpose seasoning to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Parmesan cheese to taste

1/2 teaspoon sugar, if required

In a heavy saucepan or skillet, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until just transparent. Add meat, all-purpose seasoning, salt and pepper, basil and oregano. Sauté until the meat is done. Add tomato base, simmer on medium heat and stir occasionally until heated thoroughly. Add Parmesan cheese. Adjust seasonings as desired.

Serving notes: Serve this basic meat sauce with any type of pasta.

Mushroom

2 cups tomato sauce base

1 pound canned sliced mushrooms, drained

1 tablespoon olive oil

Chopped onion to taste

Minced garlic to taste

Oregano to taste

Basil to taste

Emeril's Essence or similar all-purpose seasoning to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Parmesan cheese to taste

1/2 teaspoon sugar, if required

In a heavy saucepan or skillet, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until just transparent. Add mushrooms, all-purpose seasoning, salt and pepper, basil and oregano. Add tomato base, simmer on medium heat and stir occasionally until heated thoroughly. Add Parmesan cheese. Adjust seasonings as desired.

Serving notes: Serve this basic mushroom sauce with spaghetti, linguini or angel hair pasta.

Tomato Basil

2 cups tomato sauce base

1 tablespoon olive oil

Chopped onion to taste

Minced garlic to taste

Parsley to taste

Basil to taste

Oregano to taste

Paprika to taste

1/2 cup red wine

Emeril's Essence or similar all-purpose seasoning to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Parmesan cheese to taste

1/2 teaspoon sugar, if required

In a heavy saucepan or skillet, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until just transparent. Add all remaining ingredients and heat thoroughly. Adjust seasonings as desired.

Serving notes: This sauce is suitable for all types of pasta. Garnish with fresh basil before serving.

Arrabiatta

2 cups tomato sauce base

Minced garlic to taste

1 teaspoon olive oil

12 Kalamata olives (or similar black Mediterranean olives), pitted and chopped

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more if you can stand the heat)

Basil to taste

Parsley to taste

Emeril's Essence or similar all-purpose seasoning to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon sugar, if required

In a heavy saucepan or skillet, sauté garlic in olive oil until just transparent. Add other ingredients. Simmer on medium heat and stir occasionally until heated thoroughly.

Serving notes: Arrabiatta is traditionally served with penne. Garnish with parsley before serving.

Vodka

2 cups tomato sauce base

Minced garlic to taste

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more if you can stand the heat)

Basil to taste

2 tablespoons vodka

3/4 cup heavy cream

Emeril's Essence or similar all-purpose seasoning to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon sugar, if required

In a heavy saucepan or skillet, sauté garlic in olive oil until just transparent. Add all other ingredients, except vodka and cream. Simmer on medium heat and stir occasionally until heated thoroughly. Add vodka and cream at the last minute and stir well to incorporate. Adjust seasonings as desired.

Serving notes: Serve with penne. Vodka sauce is traditionally served without cheese. Garnish with fresh basil.

Pesto

4 cups fresh (or fresh frozen) basil leaves

1 1/4 cups olive oil

4 teaspoons minced garlic

1/2 cup grated or shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese

1 cup pine nuts

Reserve 2 tablespoons pine nuts and 10 basil leaves. Process all ingredients in a food processor while slowly incorporating olive oil.

Preparation notes: Add more olive oil if you plan to serve with a cold pasta salad. Add less olive oil if you plan to serve with hot pasta. If you can't find pine nuts, you may substitute walnuts.

Serving notes: To serve hot, mix with pasta and microwave until heated. To serve cold, mix with pasta and refrigerate until mealtime. Garnish with reserved pine nuts and fresh basil before serving. Serve with any kind of pasta.

Creamy Pesto

1 recipe basic pesto sauce (recipe above)

2 cups Half and Half

Add Half and Half to prepared pesto sauce and incorporate thoroughly.

Serving notes: To serve hot, simmer in a heavy saucepan on medium-low heat and stir constantly until heated thoroughly. Do not allow the sauce to boil. To serve cold, mix with pasta and refrigerate until mealtime. Garnish with reserved pine nuts and fresh basil before serving. Serve with any kind of pasta.

Alfredo

1/4 cup butter

2 cups heavy whipping cream

Salt and pepper to taste

1 or 2 pinches ground nutmeg to taste

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, Romano cheese, or a combination of Parmesan and Romano cheeses

1 egg yolk

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add heavy cream, and stir constantly. Add salt, nutmeg and grated cheese. Continue stirring until cheese has melted. Mix in egg yolk. Simmer over medium low heat. Stir constantly until heated thoroughly.

Serving notes: Traditionally, Alfredo sauce is served with fettuccini, but it is also served with penne and ziti. Garnish with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and ground black pepper.

Gorgonzola

1 cup white wine

2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

1/2 pound bacon

Pinch of nutmeg to taste

Pepper to taste

Boil white wine in heavy saucepan over high heat until reduced by 1/3. While the wine reduces, microwave the bacon. Crumble bacon into medium bits. Add cream to wine and stir. Add cheeses, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir constantly until the cheeses are incorporated. Add bacon and serve immediately.

Serving notes: Serve with any pasta. Garnish lightly with fresh chopped parsley and fresh ground pepper.

White Clam Sauce

2 8-ounce cans minced clams with juice

1 small onion chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup white wine

2 tablespoons parsley

1 teaspoon basil

Emeril's Essence or similar all-purpose seasoning to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy saucepan or skillet, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until just transparent. Add the liquid from the clams and the rest of the ingredients. Simmer until hot. Add clams and stir until thoroughly heated.

Serving notes: Toss with linguine and serve hot. Garnish lightly with parsley.

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