Strawberry Spaghetti Is The Sweet Polish Pasta You Need To Try

While the idea of fruit-sauced pasta may sound a little unusual at first, it's actually pretty standard stuff if you take into consideration the fact that tomatoes are technically (if not legally) fruits, not vegetables. Pumpkins, too, are in the fruit family, and no one bats an eye at pumpkin-flavored pasta sauces. FIgs and other trendy fruits find their way into summer pasta salads, but berries as a pasta sauce? That's not something you see every day — unless, of course, you're a child living in Poland. Makaron z truskawkami, which translates to pasta with strawberries, is typical school cafeteria fare, kind of like sloppy joes are (or at least once were) here in the U.S.

While some people may consider strawberry pasta to be a meal on its own, it could also be considered a dessert since it tends to be rather sweet. This is not unusual for Polish cuisine, as this country ranks in the top 10 worldwide for per capita sugar consumption and among European nations is only outdone by Belgium. Despite strawberry pasta's super-sweet flavor, however, it still seems to be one of those dishes consigned to an indistinct region: not quite main, not quite side, not quite dessert. It might be said to occupy the same nebulous space as another sugary pasta dish, noodle kugel. Still, the fact that strawberry pasta isn't tied down to any one category can be rather freeing. In fact, as a sweet-savory crossover, it might just be perfect for brunch.

Where did strawberry spaghetti come from?

While we haven't been able to nail down an exact provenance for the recipe known as makaron z truskawkami, we do know that it seems to have been around for a good long time. It's often spoken of as something that invokes nostalgia in adults for whom it brings back memories of their long-ago school days, which implies that it most likely dates back some decades into the 20th century, if not further. One Redditor, commenting on a thread in r/Poland, speaks of strawberry pasta as being a relic of socialist days, so this might mean that the dish became popular sometime between the post-WWII era and the demise of the Iron Curtain in the early 1990s.

While we may not know exactly when Poles began turning strawberries into spaghetti sauce, we do have a notion of how and why they came up with the idea. Strawberry season in the Central European country is a very short one, and it's possible that out-of-season fruit may not be as easy to come by as it is in American supermarkets where we can have our produce trucked in from California, Florida, or Mexico year-round. In order to take full advantage of fresh strawberries during their brief window of availability, Polish cooks have been known to turn them into anything from soup to pierogi to pasta sauce.

How to make strawberry spaghetti

Strawberry pasta Polish style is, at its simplest, a dish that really doesn't require much in the way of a formal recipe. You'll start by boiling up some noodles, and it seems as if any kind will do. You can use spaghetti for the sake of alliteration, but you might prefer to opt instead for a sturdier, chunkier pasta shape such as fusilli or rotini. One Redditor sarcastically suggests that all pasta served with strawberry sauce must be overcooked to a mush. Although if you prefer to eat your noodles al dente, we won't tell the Polish food policja (or r/Poland, for that matter). Should you wish to double down on dessertiness, you can skip salting the pasta water and instead add a few spoonsful of sugar to it as some cooks do.

As for the strawberry sauce, all you need to do to put this together is toss some strawberries into the blender or simply mash them up, but don't forget to add plenty of sugar. (Or not, if you insist on being a renegade, as the amount you use depends on how sweet you want your sauce to be.) You could also add some yogurt, sour cream, or heavy cream, although these dairy products aren't strictly necessary if you want to a) make the strawberry pasta vegan or b) make it on the cheap. If you're not preparing this strawberry pasta during the summertime, it's also permissible to make it using frozen fruit.

These are some strawberry spaghetti variants

Perhaps the best-known variant of makaron z truskawkami — we're surmising this because it merits its own name — is a dish called makaron z serem i z truskawkami, which means pasta with cheese and strawberries. It in no way resembles the orange-sauced macaroni and cheese beloved in the U.S., though, as it consists of the same strawberry spaghetti described above embellished with a few blops of farmer's (or cottage) cheese.

The simplest, and perhaps most photogenic, way to embellish strawberry pasta is by adding sliced or halved fresh strawberries and maybe some mint leaves. Some may opt to incorporate other fruits or vegetables, including bananas, dates, coconut, or rhubarb, with the first three being added raw but the last one needing to be cooked. For a low-carb version, zoodles can be used in place of pasta, while coconut milk or other plant-based substitutes can replace the dairy in the sauce. Some cooks will even swap out the strawberries entirely, and in fact, one Redditor says that blueberry-sauced pasta is also common in Polish school cafeterias while another reminisced about their family making it with mixed berries. Spaghetti with strawberry jam or Jell-O might also be considered makaron z truskawkami variants, as could the soup called Zupa truskawkowa z makaronem. This dish basically involves a minimal amount of noodles and a whole lot of strawberry sauce, so much so that the former are essentially swimming in the latter.

What does strawberry spaghetti taste like?

The main question, if you're deciding whether or not to try strawberry spaghetti (or other, less alliterative, pasta) is, what does it taste like? For some Poles, it tastes like straight-up kindergarten vibes, whether those be bad or good. (As we all know, nostalgia isn't necessarily sweet.)  Others may wax poetic and say it sings with a symphony of summertime flavors or some such silliness. (Symphonies, after all, are instrumental compositions.) On a Reddit thread discussing the dish, many commenters stuck with less effusive praise such as "good," albeit with the caveat that the sauce in the photo resembled pink puke. One strawberry pasta fan, however, admitted that their parents found it meh while their sister loathed the stuff. Another thread, also on r/Poland, was launched in response to "painful memories" brought back by the mere thought of the dish.

Perhaps the most useful descriptor of strawberry pasta came from a third discussion on r/Poland where a commenter mentioned having tried it at, of all places, a French bistro located in southern Italy's Basilicata region. According to this Redditor, the strawberry pasta, which they seem to have enjoyed to some extent if their noncommittal "good" was anything to go by, "Tasted like either a very savory dessert or a very sweet primi [a pre-main course typically composed of pasta]." So, in short, it tastes like sweet spaghetti. With strawberries. Whether or not you find it appealing, a large number of people will likely agree.