Pasta sauces

Ready-made pasta sauces are quick and easy to prepare but our expert tasters were unimpressed.
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  • Updated:4 Jun 2006

04.DIY recipes

While obviously more trouble than opening a jar, the sauces in this test are nearly as quick and easy to make from scratch — and you’re almost guaranteed to end up with a tastier dinner. Here are some tips from our home economist (the quantities give you enough to serve four).


  • Pasta of your choice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic (peeled and chopped finely)
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 x 440 g tins crushed tomatoes
  • Fresh basil or oregano (dried herbs are also OK)
  • Ground black pepper and salt to taste (if you use it)

While the pasta’s cooking, fry the garlic and chilli gently in the oil, add the tinned tomatoes, heat until boiling and add the herbs. You can serve it straightaway but if you let it cook for 10–15 minutes longer you’ll get a richer sauce (start cooking the pasta later).

See our article on Tomatoes for information on their health benefits.


  • 250 g fettucine
  • 4 rashers bacon or pancetta (remove rind and slice into thin strips)
  • ½ cup cream
  • Pinch paprika
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 whole egg
  • 60 g grated parmesan cheese
  • Ground black pepper

While the fettucine’s cooking, fry the bacon until crisp. Add the cream and paprika, heat gently for one minute, then remove from the heat. Add the cooked pasta, combined egg yolk and whole egg, and half the cheese. Stir the sauce through the pasta and season with pepper. Serve with the remaining parmesan cheese to sprinkle.


  • Pasta of your choice
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup toasted pinenuts
  • Ground black pepper

Using a blender or food processor, combine fresh basil, pinenuts, garlic and lemon juice, gradually adding olive oil to get a smooth consistency.


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