Shrimp Fra Diavolo
Flavored with shrimp, garlic, and zingy flakes of red pepper, this pasta dish is devilishly good. Matt Taylor-Gross
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Fancy yourself a true pasta aficionado? If you answered “yes,” you know that tomato sauce is anything but boring. Whether you’re looking for simple, elemental pomodoro or more feisty puttanesca and arrabbiata, we’ve got loads of red-sauced inspiration to upgrade your pasta game. Many of our best classic Italian dishes use tomato sauce, including rigatoni with a pancetta-flecked sauce and classic spaghetti all’Amatriciana. Get to know some of the world’s most essential pasta recipes with our guide to creative tomato sauces.

plate of pasta puttanesca and a glass of red wine
Rumor has it that pasta puttanesca–literally “whore’s pasta”–was a quick and easy dinner of choice among Neapolitan working ladies, but the dish’s salacious history is unlikely. Get the recipe for Classic Spaghetti Puttanesca » Matt Taylor-Gross
"Pasta

Pasta with Octopus Ragu and Stracciatella

Giorgia Goggi mixes this slow-cooked tomato sauce with octopus and saffron into paccheri pasta di Gragnano, a thick, air-dried Italian macaroni. But any robust pasta shape will do. Get the recipe for Pasta with Octopus Ragu and Stracciatella »
"Anzelottos

Swiss Chard Anzelottos with Pomodoro Sauce

From the tortelli family, anzelottos are rectangles often with ridged edges. “They’re made with a thicker, bright white dough of plain semola flour and hot water, which penetrates the proteins in the rustic flour more easily,” chef Evan Funke of Felix in Los Angeles says. Get the recipe for Swiss Chard Anzelottos with Pomodoro Sauce »
"sausage

Polenta with Sausage Gravy (Adapted from The Talisman Italian Cook Book)

Boni’s writing had few frills, and her rustic recipes followed suit. But a seemingly simple dish of whole sausages braised in marinara has spicy-sweet, cooked-all-day flavor. Garnish with torn fresh basil or Italian parsley leaves for a bright, herbaceous finish. Get the recipe for Polenta with Sausage Gravy »
"Shrimp
Flavored with shrimp, garlic, and zingy flakes of red pepper, this pasta dish is devilishly good.
"Lamb

Turkish Yogurt and Brown Butter Tomato Sauce

Yogurt and tomato combine to create this delicious, creamy sauce with hints of peppery zest. This sauce is a main component to manti, a Turkish spiced lamb dumpling dish. Get the recipe for Turkish Yogurt and Brown Butter Tomato Sauce »
"Pasta

Pasta with Cauliflower in a Spicy Pink Sauce

Earthy sweet cauliflower adds body to this comforting pasta baked in a comforting, spicy tomato-cream sauce. Get the recipe for Pasta with Cauliflower in a Spicy Pink Sauce »
"Rigatoni

Rigatoni with Pancetta Tomato Sauce (Rigatoni all’Amatriciana)

The recipe for this classic pork-enriched pasta dish comes from Salvatore Denaro, the chef at Montefalco’s Arnaldo Caprai winery. Get the recipe for Rigatoni with Pancetta Tomato Sauce (Rigatoni all’Amatriciana) »
"Pasta

Pasta with Sweetbread and Tripe Ragù (Rigatoni Pajata alla Finta)

Braised in a spicy tomato sauce, sweetbreads and tripe become tender and succulent, while ricotta adds rich creaminess and mint a refreshing, springlike accent to this Italian pasta. Get the recipe for Pasta with Sweetbread and Tripe Ragù (Rigatoni Pajata alla Finta) »
"Spaghetti

Spaghetti all’Amatriciana

Chef Rachael Grossman of Artigiano in Portland produces a flawless version of this Italian pasta classic, which uses a slow-simmered tomato sauce infused with lots of bacon. This recipe first appeared in our June/July 2012 issue along with Dana Bowen’s story Food of the People. Get the recipe for Spaghetti all’Amatriciana »
"Raw

Raw Tomato-Caper Sauce

Those tiny capers called nonpareilles are too subtle for this multipurpose Italian-style sauce. Look instead for large salt-packed capers from Pantelleria. Get the recipe for Raw Tomato-Caper Sauce »
"Tagliatelle

Classic Ragù alla Bolognese

On October 17, 1982, the Bolognese chapter of the Accademia Italiana della Cucina, “after having carried out long and laborious investigations and conducted studies and research”, decreed the following recipe to be the official one for classic ragu alla bolognese. We’re not necessarily convinced of that, but it’s a fantastic recipe nonetheless. Get the recipe for Classic Ragù alla Bolognese »
"Farro

Farro Gnocchi with Pork Ragù

In this Umbrian ragù, fennel pollen adds a sweet aroma and a flavor similar to that of the fennel-laced sausages found in Italian butcher shops. Get the recipe for Farro Gnocchi with Pork Ragù »
"Pasta

Pasta Alla Norma (Pasta with Tomato Sauce and Eggplant)

Chef Sara Jenkins of New York City’s Porchetta gave us the recipe for this spicy, comforting pasta dish, inspired by one made by Italian chef Salvatore Denaro. Get the recipe for Pasta Alla Norma (Pasta with Tomato Sauce and Eggplant) »
"Busiate

Corkscrew Pasta With Sicilian Tomato Pesto

This flavorful pesto from Sicily is traditionally served with homemade busiate, a spiral-shaped pasta; you can substitute dried fusilli in a pinch. Get the recipe for Corkscrew Pasta With Sicilian Tomato Pesto »

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