Pascale’s Kitchen: Delicious pasta sauces

This week, we will skip this step and concentrate instead on how to make pasta sauces.

 Pasta Bolognese  (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Pasta Bolognese
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

Lately, I’ve been receiving lots of requests for easy pasta recipes, so this week I’m bringing you recipes for tasty yet simple sauces to use with fresh pasta you can purchase in specialty stores or with a regular package of pasta. 

Whenever I’m handling fresh pasta, I’m flooded with memories from my childhood. My late mother, Esther, never once in her life bought prepared noodles. She would make fresh noodles that she would cook in a traditional Tunisian chicken soup known as chorba or in a spicy sauce. My mother also loved making tiny rice-shaped pasta pieces.

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I recall how I would stand in the kitchen watching her with a look of amazement. She was so skilled at handling the dough, forming whatever shape she was using that day. Her hands worked so quickly to form long, thin strips of pasta. 

She would make dough by combining flour, eggs and a pinch of salt. Without the help of a pasta machine, she would roll out the dough on the little table in the corner of our kitchen with this stick she brought with her from Tunis when she’d made aliyah. This long utensil is thick in the center and narrow at the ends; I’ve never come across any instrument more useful for making noodles. 

This week, we will skip this step and concentrate instead on how to make pasta sauces. The first recipe is for making a quick-and-easy Bolognese sauce. This recipe is truly almost as good as a longer, more complicated one. It doesn’t matter how you add all of the ingredients to the pan – it always comes out tasty. It is a favorite among my family, especially the children.

 One-pot vegetable pasta (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) One-pot vegetable pasta (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

The second recipe is for making a one-pot vegetable pasta dish, which is another favorite among kids, since it has peas and corn and is not too spicy. The third recipe is for pesto pasta, which is simply delicious, and can easily be made parve if you so desire.

So, all you need to prepare these dishes is a package of your favorite pasta, some boiling water, a colander and one of the sauces below. Enjoy!

Pasta Bolognese

Makes 6-8 servings.

  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, cut into cubes
  • 2-3 celery stalks, cut into little pieces
  • 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 500 gr. ground beef
  • 1 cup tomatoes, cut into pieces
  • 100 gr. tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1½ - 2 cups beef or vegetable broth, or water
  • 8-10 basil leaves, chopped finely (chop them just before adding them to the sauce so they don’t turn black)
  • 1 package (400 gr.) pasta, any type
  • 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Pinch of salt

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion pieces and sauté until they become translucent. Add the carrots, celery and garlic and continue sautéing for 2-3 more minutes. 

Add the ground beef and continue cooking, making sure to break up the clumps of minced as much as possible, until the beef is no longer pink. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, pepper and liquid. Stir, cover the pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. 

Lower the heat, then add the basil leaves. If there’s not enough liquid, you can add ¼ cup at a time until the sauce reaches the desired thickness. Taste and adjust seasoning. Continue cooking over low heat for another 30 minutes.

While the sauce is cooking, prepare the pasta according to directions on the packaging. Drain the pasta, and rinse it lightly with water. Return the pasta to the pot, add olive oil and salt, and stir. Serve pasta, with 2-3 spoonfuls of Bolognese sauce on top.

Level of difficulty: Easy-mediumTime: 40 minutesStatus: Meat

One-Pot Vegetable Pasta

Makes 6 servings.

  • Leaves from 1 bunch of fresh basil
  • 1 package (400 gr.) pasta, any type
  • Salt, to taste
  • 200 gr. small peas, frozen
  • 1 cup corn, canned or frozen
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp. pickled lemon, crushed
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 40 gr. butter, cut into cubes
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper


  • Basil leaves
  • Sliced almonds (roasted, if desired)
  • Parmesan slivers
  • Olive oil

Slice the basil leaves and stems thinly. Place the pasta in a medium pot. Pour water in to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, then add salt. 

Cook the pasta for 5 minutes. Then add the basil stem pieces to the pot, stir, and add the frozen peas and corn. Stir and cook for 2 more minutes. If at any point there’s not enough water in the pot, you can add another half to whole cup of water and continue cooking the pasta and vegetables. 

Once the pasta reaches the al dente stage, add the lemon zest, basil leaves, lemon juice, butter and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. 

Mix well until the butter has partly melted. Serve on individual plates. Adorn with basil leaves, roasted almond slices, Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil. 

You can make this dish parve by using olive oil in place of butter, and leaving the Parmesan cheese out of the recipe.

Level of difficulty: EasyTime: 20 minutesStatus: Dairy/parve

 Pesto pasta (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Pesto pasta (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

Pesto Pasta

Makes 6 servings. 

  • 1 package (400 gr.) penne pasta
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. warm water left over from cooked pasta
  • 1 small jar of pesto spread
  • 2-3 colored peppers, roasted, peeled and cut into strips (optional)
  • ¼ cup cream, 15% fat


  • Basil leaves
  • Parmesan
  • Pine nuts or pistachios, roasted

Prepare the pasta according to the directions on the packaging. Drain the pasta, saving some of the water for use later on.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan and add 5 tablespoons of pesto spread. Add between ¼ and ½ cup of pasta cooking water and stir. Pour the pasta on top of the pesto sauce. Mix well. If needed, you can add some more of the pesto spread. Add the pepper strips and the cream and continue to cook a little bit more.

Transfer the pasta to a serving dish, and garnish with basil leaves, Parmesan and pine nuts. 

If you’d like to make this recipe parve, leave out the Parmesan and use coconut milk in place of the cream. 

Level of difficulty: EasyTime: 20 minutesStatus: Dairy/parve

Translated by Hannah Hochner.