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What Dishes Can You Make If You Have Pasta But No Sauce?

Not all pasta dishes need a sauce. The oil will do.
PHOTO: Getty Images

Are you a fan of pasta but have never been a fan of the saucy pastas? Perhaps you don't like the tang of tomatoes all that much or prefer your pasta that isn't so creamy that it is coated in what looks like curdled milk.

That's okay. There are actually three types of pasta recipes when it comes to sauces: tomato sauce-based which includes your typical meat sauce and sweet style-spaghetti recipes, the cream-based pastas which include the Pinoy-style carbonara, and the oil-based pasta recipes which might the simplest of all the pasta recipes you'll find. 

Oil-based pasta recipes are typically simple recipes. The most basic of these require little more than oil, garlic, salt, and the pasta itself. You only need four ingredients and you can create a fantastic pasta dish.

Grab your pasta, oil, and a few other key ingredients that you love. Ready? Here are oil-based pasta recipes that you will fall in love with: 

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Garlic and Oil Pasta Recipe 

If you know how to gently brown garlic, you can make this pasta. Also known as the Aglio e olio or garlic and oil pasta, this is the most basic. All you do is toss cooked pasta into a pan with gently browned garlic then season with salt and, if desired, ground black pepper.  

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It doesn't get any more complicated than this, but you can always add other ingredients to the oil to amp up the flavors. Think ingredients that can flavor the oil and add to the overall flavor such as chorizo, tuyo, shrimps, and highly seasoned sausages like the garlicky Vigan longganisa or Hungarian sausages.   

Pasta with Garlic and Shrimp Paste Recipe

We bet you would never have thought of this amazing combination! While the garlic oil and pasta combination is classic, the addition of a Thai shrimp paste or bagoong is a unique addition. This is a genius recipe! If you love the taste of bagoong, that salty, shrimpy, umami bomb of a paste is loaded with flavor and taming it in some oil and then tossing it with some pasta is a brilliant and budget-friendly hack on a garlic and shrimp pasta. 

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You'll have to try this to love it! 

Garlic Pasta with Spanish Sardines Recipe 

Garlic seems to be the most common theme around oil-based pasta. It shouldn't be too much of a surprise since it's super flavorful! That's why when you add other ingredients to this trio of garlic, oil, and pasta, you need to find ingredients that complement it. Here, Spanish sardines are the choice of protein and it adds not just flavor, but crunch, too! The sardines are breaded a little to give you a delightful texture that's unexpected in a pasta. 

Olive and Canned Tuna Pasta Recipe

This pasta recipe only needs a handful of ingredients and all of them you can find canned or packaged in your kitchen: canned tuna, black and green olives, red pimiento, and a package of pasta. We used rigatoni for this recipe but like all pasta, this would be just as fantastic if you used spaghetti, macaroni, or even instant noodles to give it an instant upgrade in flavor.

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Spicy Tuna Pasta Recipe 

A can of spicy tuna is one of the most flavorful ingredients you can find in your kitchen. It's loaded with spicy heat and tuna, but it also has the flavors of tomato sauce, carrots, black peppercorns, a little bay leaf. There are actual chunks and pieces of these ingredients in the can to give you an indication that it's already super tasty! That's why it doesn't take many more ingredients to transform that can into a sauce that's worthy of tossing with pasta and making an easy instantly delicious pasta meal.   

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Mackerel and Sun-Dried Tomatoes Recipe 

If you love sardines and pasta, this should wow you even more. This uses mackerel instead of the usual sardines and since it's a larger fish, it's meatier, has less bones, and best of all, packed in a can just like sardines so it's easy to use.

To make this even more delicious, sun-dried tomatoes which are usually packed in oil are added to add a savory-sweet-sour tang that you just can't get from another type of tomato. If you don't like tomato pasta, give this tomato a shot. 

Broccoli and Mushroom Spaghetti Recipe      

One of the things that is lacking in pasta recipes is texture. Broccoli and mushrooms and even the spaghetti doesn't add any other texture to the mix, but the secret to this recipe is the topping that goes on after it's put together. 

Breadcrumbs are usually used to top baked macaroni and cheese, and it's delightful crunch amidst the general creaminess and softness of the pasta dish. For this recipe, however, that crunch is amplified by toasting the breadcrumbs and seasoning it with butter, garlic, and salt, creating a seasoned breadcrumb mix that you will want to sprinkle on top of everything, including this all-veggie pasta.  

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These oil-based pasta recipes prove that you don't need to cover up the pasta with flavors that are overpowering. Instead, the oil is what delivers the flavors to the pasta, creating a dish that will always be tasty if you toss it well.