In Italian cuisine, spaghetti is one of the most popular and beloved pasta dishes. It’s a versatile dish that can be served with a variety of sauces, each bringing its own unique flavors and characteristics to the dish.

So, what sauce do Italians use for spaghetti? Let’s explore some of the classic Italian sauces that pair perfectly with this delectable pasta.

Tomato-based Sauces:

When it comes to spaghetti, one of the most iconic and widely used sauces in Italy is the tomato-based sauce. It’s simple yet bursting with flavor.

Italians often make their own tomato sauce using fresh tomatoes, garlic, onions, and herbs like basil and oregano. This sauce is typically simmered for hours to enhance its taste.

Marinara Sauce:

The marinara sauce is a classic tomato-based sauce that is made from tomatoes, garlic, onions, olive oil, and herbs. It’s a light and tangy sauce that beautifully coats the strands of spaghetti. The simplicity of this sauce allows the natural sweetness of the tomatoes to shine through.

Bolognese Sauce:

Bolognese sauce is a rich and hearty meat-based sauce that originated from Bologna in Italy. It’s made with ground beef or a combination of ground beef and pork, along with tomatoes, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, red wine, and herbs. The slow cooking process gives this sauce its distinctive depth of flavor.

Pesto Sauce:

If you’re looking for something different from the traditional tomato-based sauces for your spaghetti, pesto sauce is an excellent choice. Pesto originated from Genoa in northern Italy and is made by blending fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and a touch of lemon juice.

Classic Basil Pesto:

The classic basil pesto is bright green and has a vibrant, herbaceous flavor. It adds a burst of freshness to the spaghetti and pairs perfectly with grated Parmesan cheese. You can also add some cherry tomatoes or roasted pine nuts for extra texture and flavor.

Carbonara Sauce:

Carbonara sauce is a rich and creamy sauce that originated in Rome. It’s made with crispy pancetta or bacon, eggs, Parmesan cheese, black pepper, and sometimes cream. The heat from the cooked pasta helps create a luscious sauce as the eggs coat the spaghetti, resulting in a velvety texture.

Aglio e Olio:

Aglio e olio translates to “garlic and oil” in Italian. It’s a simple yet flavorful sauce that is made by sautéing garlic in olive oil until golden brown and then tossing the cooked spaghetti in this aromatic mixture. A sprinkle of red pepper flakes adds a gentle heat to this dish.

Arrabbiata Sauce:

If you prefer your spaghetti with a kick of spice, arrabbiata sauce is the way to go. Arrabbiata means “angry” in Italian, referring to the spiciness of this tomato-based sauce. It typically includes tomatoes, garlic, onions, red chili flakes, and sometimes even spicy sausage for an extra punch.

Tips for Pairing Sauces:

  • Thicker sauces like Bolognese work well with thicker spaghetti varieties such as fettuccine or pappardelle.
  • Lighter sauces like marinara or pesto are best paired with thin spaghetti or angel hair pasta.
  • Consider adding a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese or a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to enhance the flavors of your spaghetti dish.

Now that you’re familiar with some of the popular Italian sauces for spaghetti, it’s time to get creative in the kitchen and experiment with different flavors. Whether you prefer a classic tomato-based sauce, a creamy carbonara, or a zesty arrabbiata, there’s a perfect sauce out there to satisfy your taste buds and make your spaghetti dish truly memorable.