Pasta Sauces

It sucks to cook alone. It sucks if others do not help. It sucks if others are indifferent. And it sucks if there is no one to eat with. It is something that many of us face on a daily basis. And it is primarily the reason that many of us do not cook, even if we can. What is the point of cooking if its just me? I cook mostly because I want to eat something good. And pasta is one of the easiest things i know to cook. 
Authentically, there are too many Italian sauces to write about. But in reality there are just a few that we eat. I myself started out with the creamy mushroom sauce, one of my favourites and since, have went on to experiment with many others in the process perfecting my own red sauce recipe.
As a complete amateur there are a few ingredients that should know of before you venture out in this world. Once you are comfortable with these and the flavours that they impart in the sauce, the possibilities are endless. I would suggest smelling and tasting these ingredients raw, so that you are acquainted with their flavours. 
Vinegar – Vinegar imparts a sour acidic flavour to your recipe. There are many varieties you can choose from and some of the options are Apple Cider Vinegar, Balsamic Vinegar, Red Wine/White Wine Vinegar. 
Peperoncino – If you don’t find fresh pepper, use chilli flakes, available in the market. 
Olive Oil – There are two that you should know the difference between – 
Extra Virgin Olive oil – This is not used for cooking purposes and is eating fresh, over salads or bread. 
Olive oil – Used to cook. 
This spice is used in both sweet and savoury dishes. Nutmeg is a common ingredient in ravioli and dishes which contain spinach or cheese.
It is extremely fragrant–almost overwhelming if not used carefully. Some Italian breads (like focaccia) are baked with bits of rosemary in them.
Oregano is a very aromatic herb that is most commonly used in southern Italy where it is sprinkled on top of pizza. Unlike most other herbs, oregano retains nearly its entire flavor when dried.
The Pesto sauce is made primarily from this herb. It is also wonderful to be eaten fresh with cheese and salads. 
You all know what Garlic is. 
The flat-leaf variety is used in authentic Italian recipes. It is usually finely chopped and tossed into sauces, meat plates, and soups.

Finally to the sauces – 

White sauce/ Bechamel sauce 
This is made from butter, flour and milk and is the easiest thing to make. 
5 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
In a saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat until melted. 
Add the flour and stir until the mixture turns a light golden color (6 to 7 minutes)
Add the hot milk to the butter mixture, whisking continuously until very smooth. 
Cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat. 
Season with salt and nutmeg and it is ready to use. 
Cheese sauce
Add Cheese to the White sauce to make the Cheese sauce. 
You can use Processed/Cheddar cheese or any other cheese you want to experiment with. 
Mushroom sauce 
Add butter to a large pan. 
Saute chopped mushrooms and garlic in it for 5 minutes at high flame. 
Add fresh cream in it and cook for 2-3 minutes. 
Add salt and pepper to taste. 
Experiment:  Add a few herbs, like dried basil or nutmeg or a splash of red wine vinegar for taste. 
Pesto sauce
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
3 medium sized garlic cloves
Black pepper
Add all the ingredients in a food processor and combine them into a paste. 
Alfredo sauce
3 tablespoons butter
heavy whipping cream
salt to taste
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. 
Add heavy cream, stirring constantly. 
Stir in salt, nutmeg, grated Parmesan cheese until melted.
Mix in the egg yolk and cook over low heat for 3 to 5 minutes.
Red Tomato sauce 
2 onions chopped
5 Garlic cloves chopped
Basil (fresh or dried)
6 Tomatoes (pureed)
Chilli flakes
Olive oil
Heat Olive oil in the pan.
Add chopped onions, garlic and sauté for 10 minutes. 
Add a teaspoon of sugar, pureed tomatoes and chilli flakes, basil and cook for 30 minutes. 
Add the salt. 
My red sauce recipe is slightly different is can be found here –
Bolognese sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup butter
1 large onion (chopped)
4 small carrots (finely chopped)
4 stalks celery (finely diced)
4 garlic cloves, (chopped)
lean ground meat [1 kg]
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 tomatoes (pureed)
1 cup dry white wine 
2 cups milk
1 cup beef stock/chicken stock
Heat the butter and the oil together in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and sauté for 5 minutes. 
Increase the heat to high and add the meat a third at a time, cooking in between till none is left. 
Cook for 8 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium and cook for 10 min. 
Pour the white wine into the sauce pan and scrape all the meat on the side.
Add milk, tomato puree, beef stock, 1 tsp [5 ml] salt and a good grinding of black pepper. 
Bring to a boil and then lower the heat, and let it cook, covered for 4 hours. 
Stir once in a while. 
If your sauce starts sticking before the end of your cooking time add a bit of stock or water.
Season with salt at the end. 
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