I think like most kids, mine would eat noodles with red sauce on repeat for weeks if I let them. This simple pink sauce pasta is a great and super simple alternative to sauce straight from the jar (although some days call for just that). I like to serve it with peas (from frozen, not from the can) and maybe some burrata or caprese salad. Dinner done!
So where did the idea come for pink sauce? I’ll admit, I’ve seen it done out in the world and at Trader Joe’s in a jar, but I wanted to see if I could make it at home. So I got to work. And I’m really quite happy with the results.
It feels like I’ve made something fancier than just noodles with red sauce, but it doesn’t take much longer. I’m also cutting out some of the sugar that sometimes hides in jarred marinara sauce (which normally doesn’t bother me, but it’s nice to do once in a while).
The kiddos love it and I hope you do too.
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What noodle shape is the best one to use?
While you can always use whatever pasta shape you have in your pantry (we have no fewer than 7 shapes of pasta in our pantry at all times), I highly suggest a tubular pasta in this recipe. There is something about the inside of the tube being able to hold lots of delicious sauce that just works really well.
My top suggestions would be:
- Penne Rigate
The three shapes I would NOT recommend because the pink sauce just won’t stick the same way without the nooks and crannies:
- Any really tiny pasta shapes
Can I make this pink sauce pasta in one pot?
I have a few one pot pastas that I turn to time and time again and I thought about making this a one pot pasta dish as well. I didn’t only because you can put this on so many different pasta types that don’t all hold up to the one pan method.
It will totally work, you’ll just have to add more liquid to the sauce so that the pasta has something to absorb. I would add either an additional 15 oz can of tomato sauce or an additional 1 cup of milk. Check out these posts (here and here) on how I make one pot pasta for other tips and tricks to make it work.
How do you make pasta with pink sauce?
Before you start on the sauce you’ll want to get your water boiling for the pasta in a large pot on the stove. When it comes to a boil, generously salt the water and then cook the pasta according to the package directions.
While the pasta cooks, you’ll want to make the pink sauce.
Start by adding the tomato paste and garlic to a saute pan over medium heat. Cook the tomato paste with the garlic for a minute or two.
Then add the two cans of tomato sauce. Let that cook for 2-3 minutes while you stir the tomato paste and garlic mixture into it, before adding the heavy cream to the pan.
Bring the mixture to a low boil and then turn off the heat. Stir in the Parmesan cheese until full melted into the sauce, then return the pan to the stove. Add salt to taste. Return the pan to the stove over low heat, add in the butter and let melt, then stir until fully incorporated.
You can either dump the pasta into this sauce and toss together before moving to a serving dish, or for pickier eaters, serve the sauce and pasta separately for people to serve themselves.
Tips and Tricks:
- You can make this into an even more complete meal by adding a protein or a lots of veggies to the dish. Think about pan fried sausage, rotisserie chicken, broccoli or peas.
- I suggest serving this with a simple green salad, or a caprese salad and some crusty bread. I’ve been making my own sourdough loaves for the last year or so and loving it. You could use any baguette, ciabatta or rustic artisan bread you like though.
- You can easily substitute the heavy cream in this recipe. I’ve used whole milk successfully as well as plant based milks.
Looking for other simple pasta recipes? Check these out!
Pink Sauce Pasta
- 16 oz dried pasta I suggest penne
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon grated garlic or one frozen garlic cube
- 2 15 oz cans tomato sauce
- 1 cup heavy cream or alternative milk
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese plus more for topping if desired
- 1 tablespoon butter
- bring a pot of water to boil and cook the pasta as the directions state on the package
- to a large straight sided saute pan, add the tomato paste and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes over medium heat
- add the tomato sauce and stir for another 2-3 minutes
- add the sugar and mix in
- add the heavy cream and stir together, let come just to a boil
- add the salt, then take off the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese
- return to the stove over low heat and add the butter, stirring until melted
- once melted, turn off the heat and serve over the pasta!
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