Types of Italian Pasta Dishes


The Italians have a vast array of pasta dishes at their disposal, along with numerous options. Pasta itself comes in many shapes and sizes, as well as dried or freshly homemade. The main difference between dishes revolves around which sauce covers it. Tomato sauces, cream sauces, and wine-based sauces are just a few of the many choices.

Tomato Sauces

  • Besides the traditional meat sauce served with spaghetti and meatballs, other well-known tomato sauces for pasta include puttanesca, Bolognese, ragu, fra diavolo and arrabbiata. Of these, Bolognese and ragu require meat in the creation. Other typical ingredients are garlic, basil, onion, olive oil, Parmesan and parsley.

Cream Sauces

  • Cream pasta sauces usually incorporate cheese and milk/cream as a foundation. Alfredo is the most popular and includes Parmesan cheese, butter and cream. Other sauces of this variety are four-cheese sauce or cacio e pepe, which relies heavily on pecorino cheese.


  • Carbonara is a famous Italian pasta dish with a few simple ingredients in addition to the pasta. The list includes eggs, Parmesan, pecorino and garlic for the sauce, and pancetta to top (sometimes pancetta grease is in the sauce, too). Cooks serve carbonara over spaghetti or fettuccine.

Seafood Dishes

  • Seafood pasta dishes often use light wine-based sauces. For example, chefs frequently serve linguine con vongole (clams) with a white wine sauce, usually a little lemon juice, butter, pepper, garlic and white wine, reduced over medium heat.


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  • Photo Credit Pasta image by Yvonne Bogdanski from Fotolia.com Whole Wheat Pasta and Tomato Sauce image by JJAVA from Fotolia.com Pasta a la carbonara image by Yvonne Bogdanski from Fotolia.com Pesto image by Yvonne Bogdanski from Fotolia.com
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