Header image: Basic Garlicky Spaghetti from CHOW

Dear marinara,

We promise there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re there for us when we need you most: on pizzas, in casseroles, and, of course, at the top of towering mountains of pasta. You got along famously with our friends at that Italian-themed dinner party and charmed the socks off our parents when we brought you over for Meatball Monday.

Sometimes, though, we feel the need to be a little bolder, to venture out there and get a taste of all the flavors that the world has to offer. Really, we swear it’s not you, it’s us. We’ve reached the point where it feels necessary to take a break and explore these eleven sauces that go beyond the tomato-y basics. So don’t be sad, marinara. It’s not a goodbye, just a so long for now.

1. Desperation Spaghetti Carbonara


Real deal carbonara doesn’t need any cream, just some eggs, a couple cloves of garlic, and a generous handful of parmesan tossed together into a silky, noodle-clinging sauce. Get our Desperation Spaghetti Carbonara recipe.

2. Basic Garlicky Spaghetti

Consisting entirely of ingredients you probably already have in your pantry, aglio e olio—garlic and olive oil pasta—is the sort of dish that you’ll return to time and time again whenever you need a quick dinner on the table. Get our Basic Garlicky Spaghetti recipe.

3. Spinach Pesto Fusilli


Capable of being made from virtually any leafy green, pesto could be catalogued as a whole genre of tomato-less sauces by itself. Spinach pesto stands out as perhaps the most all-purpose of the bunch, however, with a mild taste that doesn’t overwhelm with an overload of greenage, as some others do. Get our Spinach Pesto Fusilli recipe.

4. Fettuccine Alfredo


Ah, good old alfredo—what would fettucine be without it? The velvety sauce is enjoyable enough on its own over long, flat noodles, or you can top it off with mushrooms, chicken, or whatever other cream-loving add ons your heart desires.Get our Fettucine Alfredo recipe.

5. Milk-Braised Pork Shoulder Ragu with Fresh Fettuccine


A meaty braise has a two-in-one purpose when you use it to top pasta: you get hunks of fork-tender protein as well as a deeply savory sauce to that ties the whole dish together. Get our Milk-Braised Pork Shoulder Ragu with Fresh Fettuccine recipe.

6. One Pot Creamy Pumpkin Pasta

Kitchen Treaty

This recipe is what happens when pasta gets on the pumpkin spice bandwagon. Except unlike your latte, it’s full of real pumpkin flavor that is as creamy and gently sweet as can be. Get the recipe here.

7. Balsamic Mushroom Pasta

Girl Gone Gourmet

Balsamic vinegar and mushrooms make for a moody, intense sauce that takes things over to the dark side. Pair it with a strong-willed red wine for maximum effect. Get the recipe here.

8. Linguine with Clams and Chorizo


Clams come pre-loaded with a sauce of sorts. Just give them a quick steam and and let them release their briny juices—it’s liquid gold in a pot. Our recipe also throws in some chorizo for a bit of spice, resulting in an easy surf ‘n turf meal that practically throws itself together. Get our Linguine with Clams and Chorizo recipe.

9. Classic Macaroni and Cheese


We probably don’t need to remind you that mac ‘n cheese is the non-tomato based pasta dish par excellence. But in case you forgot, well, it’s time to reacquaint yourself with the gooiest, cheesiest, and rib-sticking-est recipe of them all. Get our Classic Macaroni and Cheese recipe.

10. Spaghetti with Anchovy Garlic Sauce


Whole anchovies can be intense—it’s easy to understand why they turn eaters off. But when crumbled into a sauce, they subtly reveal their salty, umami-filled charms, creating a complex profile will little more than some garlic and chili pepper to help. Get the recipe here.

11. Tagliatelle With Walnuts Recipe

Food Republic

Walnuts and sage make for a pretty magical duo: the nuts bring an earthy richness to this dish while the herbs add fragrant overtones, creating a sophisticated marriage of flavors and textures. Get the recipe here.

Miki Kawasaki is a New York City–based food writer and graduate of Boston University’s program in Gastronomy. Few things excite her more than a well-crafted sandwich or expertly spiced curry. If you ever run into her at a dinner party, make sure to hit her up for a few pieces of oddball culinary trivia.
See more articles