Ideas needed for pasta without tomato sauce, cream sauce, or a lot of herbs

Ok, before you tell me that I should just skip pasta with the constraints I have, please understand that I bought some nice pasta recently and I really would love to use them.

Here’s the problem, my older daughter loves tomato sauce, but my younger one won’t touch tomato sauce. They both abhor cream/ cheese sauces, and they prefer their pasta not to cover with herbs. They are all tiny kids and are not to be reasoned with, so suggestions that I should just feed them whatever and have them get used to it generally don’t really work.

Any favorite pasta recipes that don’t involve tomato sauce, cream sauce, cheese sauce and is not doused with so much herbs that you can’t even see the pasta? Shape of pasta doesn’t matter as I have a variety of shapes at home.

I am thinking about maybe a sauce based on olive. But not sure how to proceed yet.

Mac and cheese is already in the rotation.

Any ideas will be much appreciated!

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So many options not sure where to start

From a general standpoint - garlic butter/olive oil with tons of fresh veggies (artichoke hearts, olives, peas, peppers etc) sausage if you like, shaved parm cheese on side if you can’t put it in.

I love an asparagus sauce - bunch of asparagus roughly chopped, boil in a bit of water and salt until softer than you’d eat it plain, buzz in a food processor and combine with about a stick of butter, little lemon juice if you like. Enough for a pound of pasta. Can top with any grilled protein if you like (chicken, steak, fish, shrimp). It is green but not herb driven - so may get mixed mileage out of that.

Those are my first two ideas. But don’t have to go Italian - could go Thai, Chinese etc depending on shapes.


Fry thinly sliced onions in olive oil. Slice skirt steak (or whatever) into finger sized strips and fry. Grate provolone picante and add to onions & steak and add whatever pasta you’ve cooked. Cheese melts as a seasoning without bcoming a cheese sauce. (Originally a Nigel Slater recipe).

Another one from Slater. Cut chicken breast into very small dice (certainly no bigger than 5mm). Thinly slice a spring onion and some garlic (if they are OK with that). Add some thyme and parsley - as much as you think you can get away with, without the youngsters objecting to too much herb. And soem plain flour for thickening, and seasoning. Fry everything for a couple of minutes then add chicken stock and cook for 15 minutes or so. Add to whatever pasta you’ve cooked.


Lemon pasta is always good too.

Juice of about 2 lemons, some zest if you like, also about a stick of butter - good for about a pound of pasta. Can also top with any protein you like.


How about a sauce based on roasted red peppers, like a red pepper tapenade? Or would that look too much like a tomato sauce? Or as mama used to make it…oil/butter, garlic, and Maggi :slight_smile:


Do they like corn? Puree with some liquid from the tin to moisten/loosen the sauce. One could use any veg of choice, really. Without any sauce I rather like olive oil, garlic, breadcrumbs and (kalamata) olives.

  1. Choose a food they like.
  2. Mix it with pasta.
  3. Don’t overthink this.

Yes, I want to also make sure its edible and delicious for me and my wife as well.


Do you like broccoli & garlic & oil? That would work. So would cold sesame noodles with chopped cucumber. And Nigella Lawson has a recipe for squid with white beans and broken noodles, which sounds terrible but is actually really good.


You mentioned they were young children so given the no list, i’d make pasta with butter and offer a plate of small meatballs and grated parm in a bowl to use or not and prepare a nice sauce for you and your wife. Who knows maybe the wee ones will want to try what the two of you are having. All of you can share the meatballs and use the parm.


I seldom use tomato sauce base for my pasta
My sob abhors cream sauce ( Alfredo etc)
Usually, I do shrimp , ( I roast the shrimp shell, then cook it with some water, ahead of time, cook my pasta with left over reggiano rind as I have tons of them, cook the before they are al dente, finish the pasta with the concentrated shrimp broth
I serve it with pesto and reggiano

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Ha!! So true…

I’ve made this fast avocado sauce for years at this point- reduce the amount of basil as necessary and probably keep the lemon zest as garnish for the grown ups. Note the recipe quantity, not sure if that’s enough for all of you

This tasty one uses butternut squash (annoying to deal with but you can totally swap in frozen squash or buy those packages of it already chopped), an immersion blender is helpful here too. You can either skip the fried sage or hold as a garnish for the grown ups


I very nearly swooned when I read this, Thimes. How terrific.


What a coincidence, one of my favorite blogs made an entire blog post about pasta.

I haven’t personally made any of these, but their recipes are usually good, if anything they’ll give you inspiration.

Here are a few that fit your criteria:
Spaghetti with Breadcrumbs and Anchovy (you can leave out the herbs)

Soy Sauce Butter Pasta with Shrimp

Chinese Spaghetti Bolognese

If your daughter likes tomatoes, just not tomato sauce, you can make Roasted Ratatouille Pasta


Pesto (light helping so its not overwhelming)
aglio e olio

Make theirs how they want and make yours with whatever sauce you want. But have them try a bite of yours. Kids are more open to new things than you think, especially if you put a spin on it (“hey, doesn’t this look like the spaghetti the girl ate on Fuller House the other day?”)


Lo Mein
Chicken Noodle Soup


Seriously anything with soy sauce and butter = magic


Asian stir fry

Maybe some pasta con le sarde?


Indeed! :yum:

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