This spicy umami pasta recipe turns to the pantry for speed and flavor

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Spicy umami pasta

Active time:35 minutes

Total time:35 minutes


Active time:35 minutes

Total time:35 minutes



This is a great example of pantry pasta, the kind of thing you might be able to make without a recipe. But if you’d rather not think about proportions, ratios, and what goes with what, here’s a sauce that offers warmth, depth of flavor, and buttery richness for a super satisfying dinner.

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Storage: Refrigerate up to 4 days.

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  • Fine salt
  • 8 ounces rigatoni, shells, or orecchiette-style pasta
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 medium shallots, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sambal oelek or chili paste of your choice, plus more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons of honey
  • 1/2 cup white wine or pasta water, or more as needed
  • 8 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese, plus more if needed
  • 2 green onions, chopped, for serving

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente, removing from heat 1 minute earlier. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking water, if using.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add shallot and garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add chili paste, tomato paste and honey and cook, stirring, until bubbly, about 1 minute longer. The sauce will not be smooth due to the thick pasta. Add white wine or 1/2 cup reserved pasta water and olives; stir until sauce is smooth, about 1 minute more.

Add the pasta to the sauce. Cook, stirring to coat, until sauce is thickened and noodles are coated, about 3 minutes. Add more wine or pasta water if the sauce becomes too thick.

Sprinkle cheese over pasta and toss once more to combine. Taste the pasta to make sure it is cooked enough and cook 1 or 2 minutes more, if necessary. Season with salt, if desired.

Remove from heat, sprinkle with chopped green onions and a little more cheese. Serve hot.

Per serving (1 generous cup)

Calories: 787; Total fat: 32g; Saturated fat: 17g; Cholesterol: 63mg; Sodium: 1045mg; Carbohydrates: 106g; Dietary fiber: 12g; Sugar: 13g; Protein: 18g

This analysis is an estimate based on the available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a dietitian or nutritionist.

Adapted from “Pretty good” by Leanne Brown (Workman Publishing, 2022).

Tested by Emily Heil; questions by e-mail to [email protected].

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