No tinned tomatoes? Here are 10 great pasta sauces that don’t need them

From garlic, anchovy and broccoli to tuna, eggs and capers, these delicious recipes will see you through any shortages

If a shiver ran down your spine at the news that supplies of tinned tomatoes are running low because of coronavirus, you are not alone. They’re the “as long as I have that, I’m OK” ingredient for many home cooks. Yet pasta is just as possible, just as comforting, with a host of other dressings. Here are 10 of the best.

Cream and lemon
Food52 calls Barbara Kafka’s creamy lemon pasta “the most luxurious-feeling dinner you can conjure from near-thin air”. Combine the zest of two lemons with 230ml double cream (the key!), and salt and pepper to taste, and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Add drained noodles and the juice of those lemons (to taste, also) and stir to coat. More cracked pepper and you are sorted.

(Serves two to four. All the recipes below serve four, where quantities of ingredients are specified.)

Cheese and toasted nuts

Lello Favuzzi makes a toasted hazelnut and taleggio sauce for fresh gnocchi that could definitely be adapted to other fondue-style hard cheese and the nut of your choosing. Mix 100g roughly chopped cheese with 300ml whole milk, place in a bain-marie and stir to melt and combine. Add your cooked pasta and a big pinch of parmesan and stir to combine. Top with toasted roughly chopped nuts.

Garlic and anchovy sauce with broccoli

Thomasina Miers adds purple sprouting florets in the last minutes of her pasta cooking time, then dresses the lot with a sauce of two crushed garlic cloves, 300g creme fraiche, six anchovy fillets finely chopped, two egg yolks and 140g parmesan, simmered in a bain-marie for 15-20 minutes until thickened. Experiment with other cheeses, different cream and a variety of green veg.

Sausage, mushroom and green olive

I would happily replace the freshly made fettucine with which Anna Del Conte serves this in Classic Food of Northern Italy with whatever pasta I had in my cupboards. Soak 20g porcini in boiling water and leave for an hour, then drain, rinse, dry and chop, coarsely. Fry 225g pork sausage, cut into rounds, in olive oil. In a large frying pan, saute the porcini with 90g sliced brown mushrooms in some butter for five minutes; season to taste then stir in some chopped parsley, a little lemon zest and a crushed garlic clove. Cook for a minute or two, then add the sausage and a handful of large green olives (pitted and sliced). After a few more minutes, add the cooked pasta with two tablespoons each of olive oil and the pasta water. Give it another minute on the heat, then toss until glistening.

Tuna, eggs and capers
A winning combo from Oretta Zanini De Vita and Maureen B Fant’s Sauces & Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way. Fry the tuna (tinned, in olive oil) with a chopped onion. Add some white wine, fish stock, lemon juice and roughly chopped capers. Cook until thickened, then toss with cooked pasta and stir in a mixture of milk and egg yolks. Finish with olive oil.

Miso and mushrooms
Yi Jun Loh uses a mix of shimeji, eryngii and oyster mushrooms, saying others will work too in this beauty of a sauce with garlic, butter, red miso and cream. He tops the final dish with green onion and black pepper.

Carbonara

You don’t need cream for this, according to the restaurateur Russell Norman. While your spaghetti is cooking, saute some pancetta in olive oil until golden, then add your cooked pasta, stirring to coat. Remove the pan from the heat, add a well-beaten mix of egg yolks, grated parmesan, lots of black pepper and a little pasta cooking water and stir until glossy. Top with grated pecorino and more black pepper to serve.

Avocado, basil and lemon
I still love that avocados can be used in place of cream. Blend the scooped-out flesh of five avos with the juice of two lemons, two garlic cloves, 75ml olive oil and a whole lot of fresh basil until smooth. Season to taste and toss through your pasta, serving with grated parmesan.

Caponata
An Italian ratatouille of sorts, but without the tomato: sweat one teaspoon of fennel seeds, two sliced garlic cloves, an onion and two sticks of celery, both diced, in four tablespoons of olive oil. Add one courgette and one aubergine, diced, and fry for five minutes, before stirring in one tablespoon of capers and a handful of chopped olives, with a pinch of sugar and three tablespoons of red wine vinegar. Turn the heat up a little for a minute, then reduce to simmer, adding the parsley and season to taste.

Pesto

Follow Felicity Cloake’s lead and learn how to make to the real deal (lightly crush two tablespoons of toasted pine nuts with a pinch of salt in a pestle and mortar, add 250g fresh basil leaves, a few at a time, and work quickly to bash into a thickish paste. Add 25g each of grated parmesan and pecorino, and 300ml extra virgin olive oil). And then go to town. Make it with other leaves (kale, beetroot or carrot tops, wild garlic, stinging nettles, spring greens …), other herbs or add veg (broccoli, peas). Make it purple (with red cabbage), orange (with added capers) or British (with parsley and goat’s cheese). Use different nuts (almonds, walnuts, peanuts)! Turn up the heat (jalapeños, green chile)! Add miso!

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