Creamy Italian Parma Rosa Sauce Recipe: Marinara Isn’t the Only Pasta Sauce in Town by Ann Marie Patitucci

Creamy Italian Parma Rosa Sauce Recipe: Marinara Isn’t the Only Pasta Sauce in Town

I grew up in a large Italian family in New York, and I grew up eating homemade marinara sauce. We had sauce at least once a week – on Sunday – and at every family gathering. I didn’t discover pink sauce until I left home for college. I hope I don’t upset the great cooks in my family when I say I absolutely love it. It’s the ideal blend of tomato and cream sauce mixed with just a couple of key ingredients that make it creamy, smooth and flavorful; it’s a nice departure from marinara sauce if you’re looking for something different. I often order it when we eat out at one of our favorite local, family-run, Italian restaurants.

One thing I like best about this homemade pink sauce recipe is that you can use it with any pasta you like. I tend to use penne but also like it with bowtie pasta. I recently tried it with cheese ravioli and everyone in my house loved it! It’s definitely a crowd pleaser and kid-approved sauce. Another thing I appreciate is how quickly you can pull this Italian sauce recipe together. I was surprised to find that it isn’t the complicated sauce I had presumed it would be.

I like to pair pasta dishes like this one with a salad, though my boys like garlic bread and my hubby always wants meat added to his pasta dishes. We have to compromise sometimes! I will say, though, that this pink sauce definitely tastes great with grilled chicken or Italian sausage mixed in with the pasta.

Cuisine: Italian 
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced, or 1/2 teaspoon jarred minced garlic
  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole, peeled tomatoes (I prefer San Marzano)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 pound (16 ounces) penne or other pasta
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • fresh chopped basil (optional)

Here’s how to make it:

  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large sauce pot or Dutch oven. Add onions and cook until they are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally (the onions won’t continue to cook after this point so make sure they’re cooked to your liking). Add minced garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Be careful not to burn the onions or garlic.
  2. Pour the tomatoes into the pot, using your hands to break them up. This will help the tomatoes to cook evenly. Add salt and bring to a soft boil, then lower heat to low and let tomatoes simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. While the tomatoes cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook just until al dente. Be careful not to overcook the pasta (you won’t want it to be too soft when you add it back to the sauce).
  4. After tomatoes have cooked for 30 minutes, use a traditional blender or immersion blender to blend the sauce into a creamy, smooth consistency.
  5. Keep the pot on low heat and add cream, Parmigiano Reggiano and basil. Stir until smooth.
  6. Once the pasta is cooked, before draining remove 1 cup of pasta water from the pot and set aside. Add hot pasta to sauce and stir to combine. Remove from heat and add a little of the pasta water at a time, adding more if the sauce is too thick. 

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Olive Oil $4 & Up
Pasta $1 & Up
Blenders $20 & Up

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Cream and tomatoes and garlic make the best sauce. Yummy.
Julio Caro
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