The Tastiest Vegetables That Won't Clash With Your Red Sauce Pasta

If you're looking for healthier pasta, you could always mince vegetables, fry them, and incorporate them into your sauce. However, for a classic red sauce, you have to be selective, making sure the vegetables suit the tart and savory tomatoes.

The best vegetables to choose would be any that taste like tomatoes such as bell peppers, which are also a bit sour yet sweet. Alliums like shallots, onions, leeks, and garlic would also suit a red sauce because they melt away and bring a rounded sweetness once caramelized.

Some other contenders for a red sauce are those in a mirepoix, which includes onions, celery, and carrots. This aromatic blend of vegetables is an iconic trinity of ingredients that is used as a base for hundreds of sauces. Celery adds a hint of bitterness that enhances the meatiness of any sauce, while onion brings sweetness, and carrot, which also becomes slightly sweet when cooked, gives the sauce body. Any variation of mirepoix will work well in a red sauce. You could even venture outside of the standard formulas and use fennel, which is almost like celery and anise seeds combined. Or if you want meat-free pasta, mushrooms would perfectly suit red sauce, all the while bringing earthiness to the dish.

But while there are plenty of vegetables that work in red sauce, there are also many that won't.

Save the greens for white sauce pasta

There is a reason why spinach often has a place in ricotta-filled tortellini or a rich Alfredo sauce. Greens like spinach, peas, and broccoli, all have a "green" flavor about them. Once cooked, spinach ends up tasting more acidic and savory and pairs well with the muted richness of the cream. Other green vegetables like broccoli or asparagus are more fibrous than spinach but they have the same earthy taste. These vegetables also suit light sauces like béchamel or butter sauce, which allow their flavor to come out.

While it isn't completely odd to add greens to your tomato sauce, the robust flavors of a red sauce would definitely mask or clash with the acidic, earthy notes of the leafy greens. Whether it be for a pasta primavera or a spinach ravioli, pair the more green, fibrous vegetables with cheese, white sauce, or butter. They thrive in a rich, buttery environment and you'll be able to taste the flavors of the vegetables much better.