Oil-Based Pasta Sauces


When sitting down to enjoy a pasta dinner, the sauce is the true star of the show. Choosing the right pasta sauce can really make or break your meal. Tomato-based sauces are a well-known route to take, but are sometimes overused which can cause your taste buds to become bored. Oil-based pasta sauces are an increasingly popular choice among pasta lovers. Making your pasta sauce with oil puts you in control of the sauce coverage over the pasta and the flavor. There are limitless flavor combinations to choose from which will keep your favorite pasta recipe feeling new and fresh every time you make it.

Olive Oil and Garlic

  • A tomato-based pasta sauce is the most commonly used sauce, but olive oil and garlic is a close second. Using olive oil to simply cover the pasta leaves the noodles feeling light in your stomach, while the touch of garlic adds a bold and unforgettable flavor. Traditionally you prepare this by finely chopping fresh garlic and parsley, and cooking it in the olive oil until the garlic turns golden brown. After you cook and drain your pasta choice, you simply pour the oil over the pasta with a pinch of salt and pepper, toss and enjoy. Although this type of sauce will taste great over any pasta, it is best suited over thin pasta such as spaghetti or angel hair pasta.


  • Pesto is the type of sauce that will instantly make you forget about tomato-based sauces for your pasta. There are different ways to prepare pesto, and each way provides a big, bold flavor. You typically make pesto by combining garlic cloves, fresh basil, pine nuts, salt, olive oil and Parmesan cheese in a food processor to blend and create a sauce, or a type of paste. You can store pesto in the fridge for a few days or use right away mixed with cooked pasta. Pesto even tastes great used with chicken or fish. Many types of pasta shapes go great with pesto, especially pastas that have nooks that catch the sauce.

Olive Oil and Lemon

  • A basic sauce made with olive oil and lemon is tasty on its own, or when paired with a sautéed chicken cutlet or piece of fish. To make lemon sauce, combine a light olive oil, such as extra-virgin, with freshly squeezed lemon juice, lemon zest, freshly chopped parsley and basil. You can also add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste, but remember to use sparingly because too much salt can become overbearing with the tartness of the lemon. Lightly toss over your favorite spaghetti, linguine or angel hair pasta.

Olive Oil and Herbs

  • Olive oil infused with dried herbs -- such as an Italian blend which generally consists of basil, oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary and parsley -- is a simple yet flavorful way to dress up your pasta dishes. Dressing your prepared pasta with herbs and pouring olive oil directly over your pasta will work when you are lacking time; however, sautéing the herbs first in olive oil will help to bring out the flavor in the herbs, and will also infuse those flavors directly into the oil. You can do this by placing about a tablespoon or two of oil along with your herbs in a hot pan, and stirring for about a minute or until the herbs become very fragrant. Toss your pasta with your herb-infused oil, and drizzle fresh olive oil over the top. For extra flavor, add pan-seared sliced Italian sausage to your pasta sauce. The meat will add a bolder flavor while providing you with a more filling meal.

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