7 Italian Recipes That Taste Like a European Vacation

Updated 08/07/17

Let's play a round of would you rather, Italian dining edition: pizza or pasta? Pesto or tomato sauce? Red or white wine? If you're like us, these are some pretty overwhelming culinary predicaments, so we won't make you choose. But since pasta is arguably easier to make at home, we'll help you out by presenting you with a menu of seven staple spaghetti sauce recipes.

Including easy, classic recipes to keep on hand when you're in a hurry or on a budget, experimental, indulgent sauces for date night, and low-cal vegan options if you want something light, the spaghetti sauce recipe for you lies ahead. Before you know it, you'll feel like you're on a luxe Italian vacation even when you're just cooking a quick weeknight dinner for one (it's the little things).

Scroll through the seven recipes below to create your own Lady and the Tramp moment.

Meat Sugo: Bucatini All'Amatriciana

From the Kitchen

Pecorino and pancetta, please! If you've tasted all'Amatriciana before, then we don't need to tell you how good it is (just wait until you try this homemade version). For those of you who aren't familiar with this pasta sauce, it's a magical tomato-based recipe with pancetta, a generous helping of garlic, onions, and red chili flakes. This recipe, brought to us by From the Kitchen, makes it easy by including the option to use tinned tomatoes, but you can also use whole tomatoes for an even fresher taste. It's also best with bucatini noodles since the thicker circumference pairs nicely with the rich flavors and textured toppings.

White Wine Sauce: Aglio e Olio Vongale

From the Kitchen

Nothing is better than a classic aglio e olio sauce where Italian food is concerned. It enhances the noodles without overpowering your palate, and it's so easy to make since you probably have the ingredients you need lying around in the pantry. But when you have a little extra time and want to get fancier, follow this From the Kitchen white wine garlic sauce recipe. It calls for a few extras like cherry tomatoes and a melody of seafood, from quid to clams and prawns. Simple, light, and delicious, it'll let the hero of the dish (the actual spaghetti, of course) stay in the spotlight.

Green Sauce: Plant-Based, Gluten-Free Pesto

The First Mess

Looking for the perfect refreshing dish to cool you off? Presto, here it is. Follow this recipe from The First Mess if you love plant-based and gluten-free dining. The zucchini noodles are the perfect ingredient to soak up the flavorful pumpkin seed pesto as well as the sliced peaches. If you'd rather have something hardier, simply pour this herby, lemony pesto sauce on a bed of traditional spaghetti instead.

Classic Tomato Sauce: Brown Butter Marinara

Half Baked Harvest

Sometimes all we want is an easy meal that reminds us of childhood favorites. Oh, how we crave that simplicity (meal-wise and beyond). So when you're in that mood, this brown butter marinara sauce will make all your kitchen dreams come true. Half Baked Harvest provides a few variations and optional ingredients so you can add a few grown-up twists to your sauce or keep it simple. Personally, we're excited to try it with pickled jalapeños for a kick to keep us on our toes.

Ragu With a Twist: Garlic Butter Pork Bolognese

Half Baked Harvest

Not sure if you'd rather have red sauce or white sauce tonight? With this garlic butter pork Bolognese recipe from Half Baked Harvest, you won't have to choose. And though you get double the flavor and versatility, it only takes 30 minutes to make. It goes best with spaghetti or other types of long-cut pasta. Scoop the herbed pork sugo onto your garlic butter noodles, or mix it in as desired, and then don't forget your greens. This recipe includes a super-simple kale salad to place atop your pasta or on a side plate, depending on how you take it.

Low-Cal, Vegan "Meat" Sauce: Zucchini Lentil Bolognese

Minimalist Baker

Don't let this carb-free, plant-based dish fool you; it's just as filling and delicious as the more traditional pasta plates. This recipe from Minimalist Baker is packed with flavor, complete with shallots, carrots, garlic, basil, oregano, and red lentils. Pour the bolognese-inspired sauce over a pile of spiralized zucchini for a crunchy base, and voilà.

White Sauce: Garlic Cream Pancetta Spaghetti

Spoon Fork Bacon

If you aren't a tomato person, but you love to have a little meat in your spaghetti sauce, then meet your match with this Spoon Fork Bacon recipe. Doused in a cream-based garlic sauce with diced pancetta bits and crispy, shaved Brussels sprouts in every bite, this is the spaghetti you should eat when you're fixing for something rich and indulgent. Don't forget to sprinkle Parmesan on top for cheesy deliciousness.

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