I make this Pasta with Creamy Blush Sauce at least once every winter. The pretty pink sauce is velvety smooth with just the right balance of tomatoes and cream.
It’s one of those dishes where after the first bite it’s not uncommon to make an audible “mmmm” sound. Your eyes may roll back in your head for a second, and that’s okay. It’s really that good!
Winter is the perfect excuse to be cozy, a little more lazy and a lot more indulgent. I look forward to snow days where we can all just slow down for a short while, gather in front of the fire and eat delicious comfort foods.
And is there anything more comforting than a big bowl of pasta? This is a great recipe for those chilly nights.
Is blush sauce the same as vodka sauce?
Blush sauce and vodka sauce both have a similar pink color and use tomatoes and cream as their primary ingredients. But blush sauce does not contain any vodka. Instead of vodka, a blush sauce recipe is made with dry white wine.
The purpose of alcohol in both a vodka sauce recipe and a blush sauce recipe is to emulsify, or blend, the acidic ingredients with the cream. Alcohol in a recipe works to create a smooth, silky sauce where the tomatoes and cream don’t repel each other and separate.
What’s in this Pasta with Creamy Blush Sauce
We’ve got very simple ingredients in this creamy tomato sauce, and an even simpler process. We’ll get to that in a bit. For now, here’s what you’ll need:
- Tomato Paste. It comes in tiny cans because most recipes call for very little of it. Why? Because tomato paste is super concentrated. It’s amazing for adding rich, deep tomato flavor without any watery texture.
- Heavy Cream.
- Half and Half. I’ve tested this recipe using a combination of heavy cream and whole milk. It doesn’t quite work. I have found that the best consistency comes from using half-and-half. But also, see the recipe notes for modifications.
- Dry White Wine. Look for a Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Grigio. Something light and crisp.
- Onions. I like sweet onions for pasta sauces like this one. Yellow onions or Vidalia onions are the right choice.
- Fennel. This adds a really cool dimension to this delicious pasta sauce that vodka sauce simply doesn’t have. I like to crush up whole fennel seeds with a mortar and pestle in order to release the full force of its flavor. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can pulse the seeds in a food processor until they are ground up.
How to make Pasta with Creamy Blush Sauce
It takes no time to whip up this easy tomato cream sauce, making it just as perfect for busy weeknights as it is for lazy weekends. One pot is all you need! Cook the pasta in a large pot and drain it. Then make your sauce in the same pot before adding the pasta back in.
Start by sauteing the onion and garlic in extra virgin olive oil. Then add the fennel. It should be smelling amazing by now.
Pour in the wine, cream, half-and-half and tomato paste and let it thicken for a few minutes. Then just add the pasta back in.
What’s the best pasta to use for blush sauce?
For a thick, creamy sauce like this Creamy Blush Sauce, your best bet is either a short cut pasta like penne pasta, rigatoni or fusilli or a wide, flat pasta like pappardelle. Classic dishes like Fettucini Alfredo use flat fettucini to sop up that creamy sauce, while Penne Vodka uses a shorter, tubular pasta so the sauce gets into all the little crannies. Delicate shapes like angel hair pasta won’t hold up against the thick sauce.
Choose a type of pasta that you enjoy, and have fun experimenting with different shapes!
A few things to remember when you make this Pasta with Creamy Blush Sauce:
- This recipe finishes with a little bit of heat from crushed red pepper. You wouldn’t believe how much heat you get from just a quarter teaspoon of crushed red pepper! If you prefer less heat, use only 1/8 of a teaspoon, or you can leave it out completely.
- You can use all heavy cream or all half-and-half in this recipe. If you use all heavy cream, use reserved pasta water to thin out the sauce to your liking. If you use all half-and-half, be sure to simmer the sauce 10-15 minutes longer to allow it to thicken.
- When choosing a white wine for this delicate tomato-cream sauce, go for a dry variety like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. Avoid wines like Riesling and Viognier.
- Store any leftover sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. Reheat in a large skillet with a little pasta water to loosen up the sauce.
Enjoy a glass of white wine out of the bottle you’re using for this recipe and before you know it you’ll be ready to eat. We love to enjoy this meal with a simple salad and a loaf of crusty bread.
I hope you’ll try this Pasta with Creamy Blush Sauce the next time you need a winter warm-up. And let me know how it goes! Drop a rating or leave a comment below. Enjoy!
For more pasta recipes, try these:
- Pasta alla Vodka with Sweet Peas and Bacon
- Pumpkin Cheddar Lager Mac and Cheese
- Chicken & Tomato Pappardelle
Pasta with Creamy Blush Sauce
- 1 lb. short-cut pasta
- 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large or 2 small yellow onions diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 tsp. whole fennel seeds crushed or pulsed in a food processor
- 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2/3 cup half and half
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- Cook pasta until al dente. Drain. Return the pasta pot to the stove and add the olive oil, onions and garlic. Cook over medium heat until the onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the fennel, salt, pepper and red pepper. Continue to cook until fragrant, about 3 more minutes.
- Increase the heat to high heat and add the white wine, scraping up the browned bits in the pan. Whisk in the cream, half-and-half and tomato paste. Allow the mixture to come to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until thickened, about 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the pasta back into the pot and stir to coat with the sauce. Garnish with fresh parsley, cracked black pepper and Parmesan cheese, if desired.
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