Tomato-Free Pasta Sauces

Written by lily potter
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Tomato-Free Pasta Sauces
There are many options for tomato-free pasta sauces. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Though pasta may be typically associated with a tomato-based sauce, such as Marinara or Ragu, this is not always the case. There are many different types of pasta sauces, many of which do not even use tomatoes at all. If you are looking for new ways to make pasta, or are hoping to avoid tomatoes read on for some ideas on how to make pasta for dinner without using a single tomato.


The name "pesto" originally comes from the way this sauce is made. It was traditionally pounded with a mortar and pestle. Now, it is more likely ground in a food processor, but an important distinction is that it remains uncooked. While the most popular pesto by far is Genovese, and made with basil, garlic, oil, and pine nuts, there are many varieties. Pesto can be made with a number of herbs, including mint and arugula.


Carbonara is a simple, but satisfying, preparation of pasta. Also known as "bacon and egg" pasta, the sauce is actually egg yolks that have coated each strand of the long pasta, making a "sauce." To the egg yolks, bacon of some variety is added. Most traditionally, pancetta, which is a type of Italian bacon, has been used. Guanciale, an Italian bacon made from pork jowls, or plain old bacon can be used as well. The only other ingredients, typically, are Parmesan and black pepper.

Alfredo Sauce

Alfredo Sauce is a white, cream-based sauce from the north of Italy. It's most simple versions consist of cream, Parmesan, and black pepper. Other varieties may incorporate butter, milk, or other types of cheese. Alfredo sauce functions as an excellent base, and can hold up to many additional ingredients, like mushrooms and salmon or prosciutto and peas. It is typically served with a long, flat pasta like fettuccine or linguine.

Brown Butter

Brown butter is essentially a preparation of butter in which it is sautéed until becoming brown. In Italian cooking, it is best paired with a stuffed pasta, like ravioli. It can be varied with different herbs fried into the butter, and what herbs are used is often dependent on what the ravioli is stuffed with. For example, a butternut squash ravioli pairs well with a brown butter sage sauce, and a cheese ravioli goes well with basil brown butter.

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