Elevate your pasta game with this easy pink sauce

Photo of Pasta in Pink Sauce
Abhi Varma/Staff

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This recipe for pink sauce is a step up from plain tomato sauce and lighter than white sauce, which is often too heavy on the palate. Marrying the two yields a sauce that is well balanced between the sweetness and acidity of tomatoes and the richness of a splash of cream. It doesn’t require too many ingredients or too much time, making it the perfect way to elevate your pasta game without a ton of added stress.


  • 2 lb ground meat, preferably pre-seasoned with Italian herbs (Note: pork sausage is standard here, 80/20 beef or even lamb would be indulgent and chicken or turkey would be the healthiest)
  • White wine (optional but recommended) or chicken stock 
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 medium shallots
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pinch of red chili flakes
  • Shake of Italian herb mix
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)


  1. Add one turn of olive oil to a large pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the meat to the pot and break it up into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Finely chop the shallots and garlic while the meat cooks.
  4. Continue to cook the meat until juices evaporate and — if you’re using pork, beef or lamb — the fat renders out. If you’re using chicken or turkey, add an extra glug of olive oil at this stage. Note: When cooking ground meat, first you’ll see steam while it expels some juices that are mostly water. After that evaporates, the fat renders out of the meat. You’ll notice that the sound of the sizzle changes from a weak hiss to a strong crackle because the meat is frying in its own fat as it turns a beautiful dark golden brown. This is the basis for flavorful food!
  5. Add a generous turn of white wine or chicken stock and vigorously stir to scrape up all the browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot.
  6. Add a sprinkle of chili flakes and cook for 30 seconds. 
  7. Add a generous spoonful of tomato paste and stir to coat all meat.
  8. Add the shallots and stir until softened.
  9. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  10. Add the crushed tomatoes. Fill the empty can of crushed tomatoes about a third of the way with heavy cream (this is about 1 cup) and add to the pot. Mix well to combine.
  11. Add a good shake of herbs.
  12. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and cover for 10 to 20 minutes or however long it takes to make your pasta of choice according to package directions.
  13. Taste your sauce and season generously with salt and pepper.
  14. Serve with pasta and top with grated Parmesan cheese if desired. 

If you plan on using this recipe for meal prep, slightly undercook your pasta as it will steam once you reheat it in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. This dish pairs well with steamed broccoli or Caprese salad.

Contact Abhi Varma at [email protected].