Tomatoes only started to become widespread in Italian cuisine in the 1800s. Although the tomato plant was first brought to Europe from South America in the late 1500s, Italians didn’t take to eating them for quite a long time.
People thought they were poisonous and grew them as ornamental plants. It actually took about 200 more years for tomato sauce as we know it to become a popular ingredient in the Italian kitchen!
Consequently, before the 1800s pasta wasn’t paired with tomatoes. Italians served pasta in broth and soups, with white ragu, with cream, cheese, or butter, with other vegetables and legumes, with pesto or seafood but without a tomato in sight!
In addition, tomatoes were first cultivated in the south of Italy where the climate is more suitable. In fact, nearly all of Italy’s famous tomato varieties like San Marzano, Vesuviano tomatoes and Pachino tomatoes are only grown in the Southern regions. As a result, most popular northern Italian pasta recipes and even many central Italian ones don’t include tomatoes as an ingredient.
30 Pasta Recipes Without Tomatoes
This traditional spaghetti alla carbonara uses just a handful of ingredients to make a rich and creamy pasta recipe in under 30 minutes. It’s arguably one of the most famous Italian pasta recipes without tomatoes. Carbonara has undergone countless reinventions outside of Italy. However, it is not really needed since this recipe is so delicious as it is!
This simple yet incredibly flavorful pasta alle vongole is one of Italy’s most famous seafood pasta dishes. It’s hardly surprising, considering the delightful taste of this iconic dish from Naples.
This spaghetti aglio e oli can be prepared in 15 minutes and calls for just a handful of ingredients. But don’t let the ease of preparation fool you; this recipe is full of flavor and perfect for garlic lovers.
This classic white ragu pasta recipe combines ground meats, pancetta, and wild or cultivated mushrooms to create a deeply umami-rich dish. It’s an ideal choice to wow mushroom lover guests and family members.
Pasta cacio e pepe is a traditional dish from Rome and is a true testament to Roman cuisine. This easy to prepare Roman classic uses just three key ingredients: Pecorino Romano cheese, black peppercorns, and pasta. Ready in about 30 minutes, it’s ideal for a quick weeknight dinner yet also special enough to impress guests.
The savory richness of pasta with porcini mushrooms is something truly appreciated by those who have experienced it. This Italian classic is surprisingly simple to make.
The key lies in using good quality dried, fresh or frozen porcini mushrooms, which are complemented by wine, garlic, and wild mint or thyme.
This pasta with saffron is a very traditional and flavorful Italian recipe, remarkable for using just a few ingredients. It takes only 40 minutes to make and strikes the perfect balance between simplicity and sophistication.
Pasta alla Gricia is an ancient Roman recipe with deep historical roots. Food historians suggest that this dish dates back to around 400 AD and was a common offering in the taverns of Ancient Rome. It’s frequently nicknamed the white Amatriciana due to its similarities to the classic Amatriciana sauce, but without tomatoes.
If you’re an offal lover, you’re in for a treat! In just 45 minutes, you can bring this delicious, rich and creamy tagliatelle with chicken livers from Emilia-Romagna to your table.
This simple canned tuna pasta recipe offers a quick and flavorful meal, utilizing common pantry items. Perfect for busy weeknights, this dish combines hearty tuna, zesty lemon, and capers, creating a delicious and zesty pasta sauce.
This straightforward Italian pasta with peas recipe is remarkably tasty despite having only four main ingredients. Traditionally a spring recipe made during fresh pea season, you can also enjoy this classic dish all year round with frozen peas too.
This creamy lemon salmon pasta offers a delicious combination of pasta, tender salmon, and a smooth lemon-infused sauce. It’s made from basic ingredients and can be prepared in just 30 minutes. An ideal choice for nights when you crave a gourmet meal without wanting to spend hours in the kitchen.
Enjoy this quick and easy classic Neapolitan recipe renowned for its simplicity and flavor. It brings together delicious fried zucchini and with a creamy Provolone cheese sauce. Made famous by Stanley Tucci in his Searching for Italy series, this is a must try pasta recipe.
This delicious baked pumpkin pasta recipe is a traditional dish that captures the very essence of Italy’s love for seasonal ingredients. It’s the perfect choice for when you want a rustic fall pasta dish. Great as a side dish or to take to a potluck.
Orecchiette with broccoli rabe, commonly called rapini, stands out as a signature pasta dish in Apulian cuisine. This recipe shines with its simplicity, using mostly pantry-stable ingredients, yet it’s packed with flavor and can be prepared in just 30 minutes!
This Italian lemon ricotta pasta recipe captures a delightful fresh summer essence with a robust lemon flavor.
Spaghetti al limone with ricotta is a no-cook sauce recipe, meaning only the pasta is cooked. It’s ideally suited as a summer dish or for those times when you want a quick, light meal.
Among the wonderfully simple traditional pasta recipes from Southern Italy, this anchovy pasta from Naples stands out as a true gem. Locally celebrated as spaghetti alla Gennaro, this dish holds a cherished spot in Neapolitan hearts, named in honor of the city’s patron saint.
This creamy smoked salmon pasta is great for special occasions, romantic date nights, or simply when you’re in the mood for a delicious and comforting meal.
In Italy, this delightful dish is called pasta alla cenere. It’s an easy-to-make gorgonzola pasta recipe, offering a creamy gourmet experience with just three main ingredients. It takes less than 30 minutes to cook, making it an excellent choice for a weeknight meal.
Referred to as trofie con salsa di noci alla Genovese in Italian, this walnut sauce pasta is a classic dish originating from Liguria in Northwest Italy. While it may not be as famous as pesto Genovese (basil pesto), walnut sauce stands as another delightful variety of Ligurian pesto.
One of the simplest, fastest, and yet most delicious pasta recipes has to be this pasta with breadcrumbs and anchovies. This southern Italian classic can be ready to serve in just 20-30 minutes and is incredibly easy to prepare.
This truffle pasta is a five-star restaurant worthy recipe which only requires four ingredients besides the pasta. It’s an ideal choice for special occasions such as Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, and birthdays, adding a touch of luxury to the celebration.
This red wine pasta recipe involves a distinctive method of cooking the pasta in red wine, similar to the technique used for risotto. Despite its name, the dish doesn’t retain a high alcohol content, as most of the alcohol evaporates during cooking.
The outcome is a serving of plum-colored pasta infused with a mildly sweet flavor from the wine.
This delightful salt cod pasta calls for cloves, nutmeg and lemon zest, all of which give this pasta recipe from Abruzzo an exceptionally rich flavor profile. If this is your first time using salt cod, you will be in for a delicious surprise.
One delightful way to enjoy asparagus is with pasta with walnuts. This is a tasty traditional dish originating from Marche in Central Italy and is straightforward to make and highly nutritious.
Neapolitan baked ziti pasta al gratin with béchamel sauce is a classic dish from Naples in Southern Italy. Similar to other baked pasta dishes, it’s a favorite for family gatherings on Sundays and during holidays. However, this delicious baked pasta comes together very quickly and can easily be part of a weekly menu.
Ricotta and pistachios are important ingredients in Sicilian cuisine and are renowned for their versatility in both desserts and pasta dishes. This Sicilian ricotta and pistachio pasta is a delicious example of how these ingredients can be used together to make a divine creamy plate of pasta.
Referred to as ‘miezi paccheri alla capa ’e’ mbrello in the local Neapolitan dialect, this recipe for mezzi paccheri with mushrooms and cream is remarkably simple to prepare and exceptionally delicious.
This cannelloni with spinach and ricotta is a classic Italian baked pasta dish, commonly enjoyed in Italy as a starter for Sunday lunches and festive holiday meals.
It features a traditional filling of ricotta cheese and spinach, which is carefully stuffed into cannelloni tubes. These tubes are then baked in a luscious béchamel sauce and topped with savory Parmigiano Reggiano.
Italian basil pesto lasagne al forno, also known as lasagne alla Portofino, is the ultimate summer lasagna recipe. For those who are pesto fans, this dish is an absolute dream, offering a perfect blend of flavors that will leave you wanting another bite.
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If you make any of these Italian pasta withut tomatoes recipes, I’d love to hear how it turned out and if you liked it. Please leave a comment here on the blog or on The Pasta Project Facebook page.
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