Maureen Fant, author of the IACP award-winning Sauces and Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way, shared with Food52 her go-to list of pasta recipes that are one step past the basics. Put on a pot of water, pour yourself a glass of wine, then read on.
After you’ve mastered simple tomato sauce, carbonara, cacio e pepe, puttanesca, arrabbiata, pesto alla genovese, and aglio olio (and if you haven’t mastered them yet, please see me after class), you can further enrich your repertoire with these great next-level essential pasta dishes.
Here are five to commit to memory:
Sugo con il Tonno e il Pomodoro (Canned Tuna and Tomato)
You always have some very good olive-oil-packed tuna and good canned tomatoes or tomato purée in the cupboard, right? (And if not, why not?) This is for when you thought you were going out, but decided to stay in, or for when your best friend came over to help you with your closets and she stays for dinner.
Sagne e Lenticchie (Lentils and Noodles)
It’s technically a soup, but you can make it as dense as you like. Legumes are a natural partner of pasta. Here the lentils are spiced up with only tomato purée assisted by a little onion, garlic, chile, and a bay leaf. You’ll realize you never appreciated the true flavor of lentils before.
Umido di Cipolla (Onions and Tomato)
The richness and depth of this slow-cooked sauce consisting of a lot of onions and a little tomato purée make it the perfect preliminary to roasted or grilled meat. My guests always purr. But it’s also great just to pull out of the freezer and heat when you need comforting.
Ragù di Carne (Meat Sauce)
You didn’t think all meat sauces were made with ground meat, did you? This one gets its meat flavor from a pot roast, which is then served as a separate course or even at a different meal.
Sugo con i Broccoli alla Siciliana (Pasta with Broccoli, Olives and Pistachios)
Broccoli never had it so good. Or cauliflower, which you can use instead. Anchovies, capers, olives, pistachios, and chile provide exoticism and zip.
For the condimento:
2 white onions, very thinly sliced
1 small rib celery
6 to 8 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 1/2 ounces guanciale or pancetta, finely diced (1/4 inch)
1 pound boneless beef in a single piece, such as chuch roast or chuck steak, tied with kitchen twine
1 cup full-bodied red wine
2 1/2 cups tomato puree
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt (at least)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup meat broth (if needed)
To make the dish:
1 pound pasta, almost any kind except pastina or angel hair
4 rounded tablespoons grated Parmigiano-reggiano
Mince finely together the onions, celery, carrot, and parsley (in the food processor if desired). Put in a saucepan with the pancetta or guanciale and the oil over medium-low heat.
When the vegetables are wilted and the pancetta or guanciale nicely browned, about 10 minutes, add the beef and brown on all sides, turning with tongs or two spoons (don’t puncture it with a fork and let the precious juices escape).
Raise the heat and add the wine. Let it bubble until the odor of alcohol has disappeared, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato purée and the bay leaves. Add the salt and a few grinds of pepper and continue cooking, covered, over very low heat, for about 2 hours, until the sauce has visibly reduced and the oil has come to the surface. Add a little broth from time to time as the liquid evaporates.
Finally, remove the meat and reserve it, with a little of the sauce, for another course or another meal. Fish out and discard the bay leaves. You will be left with a thick but liquid sauce.
Recipes excerpted from Sauces and Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way by Oretta Zanini de Vita and Maureen Fant. Copyright © 2013 by Oretta Zanini de Vita and Maureen Fant. With permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
This article originally appeared on Food52.com: 5 New Pasta Sauces to Add to Your Repertoire