“The secret’s in the sauce.” – Tomato cream sauce, that is.

Photo and recipe courtesy of The Pioneer Woman (www.thepioneerwoman.com)

At the two ends of the pasta sauce spectrum you’ve got your hearty tomato sauces and your creamy alfredo/white sauces.  Most folks I’ve talked to seem to strongly prefer one over the other.  Personally, I drool over a happy marriage of the two: tomato cream sauce (also known as “pink sauce”, or “rosa sauce”).  My folks were coming over for dinner the other night and so I searched online for some delicious pasta inspiration to make for them.  Enter: The Pioneer Woman.

My first introduction to The Pioneer Woman was through another food blog I follow called Bakerella.  One of her posts was about meeting The Pioneer Woman.  That led me over to her blog and I’ve had a place in my heart for her ever since.  As it turns out, she’s a tomato cream sauce girl too.  I found 4 amazing tomato cream sauce recipes that I can’t stop drooling over so I thought I’d share them with you.  The first one, “Penne a la Betsy” is the one I made for my parents.  It was met with rave reviews.

Penne a la Betsy (pictured above)

Prep Time: 25 Minutes    
Cook Time: 25 Minutes      
Difficulty: Easy      
Servings: 6


  • 3/4 pounds Penne Pasta
  • 1 pound Shrimp
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 whole Onion (small)
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 cup White Wine, Or To Taste
  • 1 can Tomato Sauce (8 Oz)
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • Fresh Parsley, to taste
  • Fresh Basil – To Taste
  • Salt To Taste
  • Pepper To Taste

Preparation Instructions

Cook the penne pasta until tender-firm, also known as al dente.

Peel, devein and rinse (under cool water) 1 pound of extra large shrimp. Heat about 1 tbsp. butter and olive oil in a skillet. Add the shrimp and cook for a couple minutes until just opaque. Do not overcook them. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Now, put the cooked shrimp on the cutting board and pull off the tails. Chop the shrimp into bite –sized pieces and set aside.

Finely dice one small onion. Mince two cloves of garlic.

In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the garlic and onion and sauté, stirring occasionally. After the garlic and onions have cooked a bit add your white wine. Let the wine evaporate for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. If you would rather not use wine, you can use low-sodium chicken broth instead (about ½ cup).

Now add an 8-ounce can of plain tomato sauce. Stir well until combined. Then add 1 cup of heavy cream. Continue stirring. Turn heat down to low and let simmer.

Now chop your herbs, about a tablespoon of chopped parsley and about the same amount of chopped basil, or if you’re feeling very proper, chiffonaded.

Now add your chopped shrimp back into the tomato cream sauce. Give it a stir and add salt and pepper to taste. Throw in your herbs and stir until combined. Finally add your cooked penne pasta and give it a good stir.

Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Photo and recipe courtesy of The Pioneer Woman (www.thepioneerwoman.com)

Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: 4


  • 3 whole Red Bell Peppers
  • 2 Tablespoons Pine Nuts (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • Flat Leaf Parsley, Finely Minced
  • Fresh Parmesan, Shaved Or Grated
  • 1/2 pound (to 1 Pound) Pasta: Orecchiette, Penne, Fusilli, Etc.

Preparation Instructions

Roast red peppers, and then place in a Ziploc bag to allow to sweat. Peel the charred skins from the peppers, then removed seeds. Set aside.

Lightly toast pine nuts in a skillet. Set aside.

Puree peppers with pine nuts. Set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a skillet or pot over medium heat, drizzle in olive oil. Add diced onions and garlic and cook until soft. Pour in pepper puree and stir together. Add plenty of salt.

Pour in cream and stir to combine. Taste and add more salt, if necessary. Add cooked pasta, and then stir together.

Place pasta into a bowl, top with chopped parsley and plenty of shaved Parmesan.

Pasta Alla Vodka

Photo and recipe courtesy of The Pioneer Woman (www.thepioneerwoman.com)

Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 Minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: 6


  • 1 pound Pasta
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Chopped Finely
  • 2 cloves (to 3 Cloves) Garlic, Chopped
  • 3/4 cups (to 1 Cup) Vodka
  • 1 can (About 14 Oz.) Tomato Puree
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 pinch Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon (to 1/2 Teaspoon) Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
  • 1 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

Preparation Instructions

Cook pasta according to package directions, being careful not to overcook.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and butter. When butter is melted, add in chopped onion and garlic. Stir and allow to cook for two minutes. Pour in vodka. Stir and cook for three minutes. Add in tomato puree and stir.

Reduce heat to low and stir in cream. Allow to simmer, being careful not to overheat. Stir in red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of pasta water in case sauce is too thick. Add cooked pasta to the sauce, tossing to combine. Splash in a little water if it needs it. Stir in Parmesan cheese.

Pour mixture into large serving bowl. Garnish with more Parmesan cheese.

Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

Photo and recipe courtesy of The Pioneer Woman (www.thepioneerwoman.com)

Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 Minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: 8


  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 cans (15 Ounce Each) Tomato Sauce Or Marinara Sauce
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • Dash Of Sugar (more To Taste)
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • Grated Parmesan Or Romano Cheese, To Taste
  • Fresh Basil, Chopped
  • 1-1/2 pound Fettuccine

Preparation Instructions

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.

Heat butter and oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for a minute or so. Pour in tomato sauce and add salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. Stir and cook over low heat for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and stir in cream. Add cheese to taste, then check seasonings. Stir in pasta and chopped basil and serve immediately. (Thin with pasta water before adding basil if needed.) 

Making these dishes your own:

The beauty of each of these dishes is that they are wide open to editing.  You can tweak the sauces to your liking (add more garlic, different herbs, change the ratio of tomato sauce and cream, etc.)  You can also use whatever pasta you are in the mood for (keep in mind that pasta shapes are individually suited to different kinds of sauce).  You can also toss in whatever protein you like – in the mood for seafood? Throw some shrimp, clams, mussels, scallops, fish – whatever tickles your fancy.  In the mood for chicken, ground beef, sausage, or any combination thereof?  Go for it.  Want to throw some veggies in there? Go for it!

Because I think you should really head over to The Pioneer Woman’s website for yourself: here are the links to each of these recipes.  She takes the most beautiful pictures and in fact she takes step-by-step instructional photos of every recipe she makes.  I can’t compete with that. lol  (Not until I have more free time on my hands, at least.)

Penne a la Betsy: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/09/cooking_with_my_punk-ass_little_sister_penne_a_la_betsy/

Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2009/03/pasta-with-roasted-red-pepper-sauce-groan/

Pasta alla Vodka: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2008/12/friday-night-dinner-pasta-alla-vodka/

Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/09/pasta-with-tomato-cream-sauce/

If you make any of these, please let me know how they turn out!  Happy cooking! 🙂

13 thoughts on ““The secret’s in the sauce.” – Tomato cream sauce, that is.

    • The Penne a la Betsy was DELICIOUS! I imagine the other three will be equally delicious as well. As a courtesy to my waistline, I decided I’ll try one of them a week for the next few weeks. The rest of my meals will be on the lower calorie side to compensate! 🙂

    • The Pioneer Woman is amazing! (I usually post healthier recipes if you want to find any ideas on lower calorie deliciousness to sustain yourself when you’re not indulging.) I will most definitely be trying every single one of these. I’m sure I will tweak them as far as adding some sort of meat or seafood to dress them up a bit but they are gorgeous all by themselves! Let me know how they turn out if you make one! 🙂

  1. I cannot believe what is happening since I joined wordpress. Other authors were preaching, “Get a blog. That’s how you get followers!” No, no it’s not! It’s how you find delicious looking food. I’ll never get my next book finished if I keep finding all these wonderful recipes!

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