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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Simple Cream Sauce for Pasta

When we lived in Boston, there was a small Italian restaurant in the North End that I loved to go to (no idea what it’s called, unfortunately). I often would order their penne in cream sauce with broccoli and chicken. It was simple and oh so delicious. I’ve been having a hankering for this dish, so I tried throwing it together myself this week.

how to make perfect cream sauce for pasta from @janemaynard

The results were yummy. It’s still not like what I ate in the North End, but this is a delicious recipe nonetheless. Plus, the cream sauce is nice and neutral, so you can really take this dish wherever you want it to got…chicken, pancetta, your favorite veggie, mushrooms…go crazy! I personally really like the simplicity of steamed broccoli and grilled chicken.

Simple Cream Sauce for Pasta
  • 1 cup white wine
  • ~ 2 cups cream
  • Half of a small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a press
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • tablespoon or so of oil
  • fresh, shredded parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. Saute onion in olive oil over medium heat until translucent. Add garlic and saute for about 30 seconds, then add white wine and simmer until wine reduces to about about half. Add cream and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly to avoid scorching the bottom. Salt and pepper to taste. The sauce will remain pretty thin, which is fine for when you mix it with the pasta later. If you really feel like thickening it up, you could add a bit of flour, but I would resist doing this since the sauce will thicken as it cools on your plate.
  2. Mix with one package of cooked pasta of your choice and whatever toppings you desire. If you want it a little "saucier" don't use quite the whole package of pasta. I love this with steamed broccoli and grilled chicken breast mixed in. I also like to toss in a handful of fresh, shredded parmesan cheese at the end, stirred into the pasta.


  1. 1
    Ashlyn C

    I went on a trip to Italy last May and at one restaurant we learned that Alfredo sauce is completely American. (news to me) Our waitress recommended a white asparagus sauce instead. It was to die for, seriously the best meal I have ever had. I am going to try your recipe and use asparagus to try and recreate like you did. Wish me luck!

  2. 2

    I used to eat a an Italian restaurant in the North End too! And I can’t remember the name either! Haha! When my sister was getting her Ph.D. at B.C. I used to go visit her and savor all the different foods that I don’t have where I live. 😉 I will have to try this though…

  3. 3

    So, SO many good Italian restaurants in the North End!

  4. This sounds wonderful! It may convince me to stop using flour in my cream sauces… 🙂

  5. 5

    This is exactly how we made the cream sauce at a winery I used to work at, but we used shallots instead of onions and added a bay leaf. We would just add cheese to make it a cheese sauce or a watercress pesto to make a pesto cream sauce. It was very yummy!

  6. 6
    Nikki CB

    Sounds tasty! And cool that you recreated the recipe yourself.

  7. 7

    I added mushrooms and grilled shrimp. Super yum!

  8. 8

    This was so tasty!! Will become a staple in our house because it’s so simple and quick. Thanks for posting!

  9. 9

    Looks good! How many people will your base sauce serve?

    • Jane Maynard

      dottie, I’m sorry I didnt’ reply to your question yet!

      this sauce is good for a 1 lb package of pasta, which I think you could safely serve 4-6 adults. I feel like I usually do half a package for 2 adults and 2 kids, so hopefully that’s a good gauge!

  10. 10

    Was the restaurant Giacomo’s on Hanover street?

    • Jane Maynard

      I don’t think so, it was further down Hanover close to commercial street, on the north side of the street..

  11. 11

    Is it Ristorante Cantina Italiana, next door to a mens hair salon?
    Trying your recipe tonight, sounds delish!!

  12. 12

    SAUCE IS GREAT.!…I ADDED SOME CREAM CHEESE…your blog is an inspiration. 🙂

    • thank you! and so glad the recipe worked well for you!

      someone commented on another recipe that they just came out with a cream cheese made for cooking that melts better or is smoother or something…would work great with what you did!

  13. LOVED this recipe! It was delicious last week and I’m making it again tonight! It was a little sweet with the white wine my husband bought. But I’m looking forward to trying it with something a bit more dry like a pinot!

    What wine do you normally use Jane?


    • Jane Maynard

      your question is totally making me laugh because I have no idea what white wine I use! I never buy it, I just use whatever white wine has most recently been given to me!

      so….I’m giving you homework. when you try a different kind, let me know if it’s good so I can be smarter about it!

  14. 14

    This looks great – I’ve been sharing a pasta dish with my kids at a restaurant in Stratford-on-Avon for a couple of years and think this is probably the sauce I need…pasta, grilled chicken, pancetta, red and yellow peppers and red onion – finished in the oven with parmesan on top – delicious. I will be trying this next week – could make me a very popular Mommy indeed!

  15. 15

    Just tried this recipe with angel hair pasta and turkey sausage. It was delicious! Thanks for posting!

  16. 16

    This is a favorite in our house. We just switch the onion out for Shallots and mix in some grilled chicken and asparagus!

    YUMMY (this is dinner tonight!)

  17. 17

    Oh this looks delish. But I just do not like wine 🙁

    • Jane Maynard

      hi jamie! the sauce does have a bit of a wine flavor, but not much. my kids love the taste, once it’s on the pasta you don’t notice it at all. that said, you could try substituting out some or all of the wine for chicken stock and see how it goes. hope that’s helpful!

  18. 18
    Izzy wilder

    This sauce is amazing! Light, and very tasty! I don’t really like heavy sauces but this is perfect! I added mushrooms, too, and that just made it even better! This sauce is soo good

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