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

Spicy Umami Pasta

Active time:35 mins

Total time:35 mins


Active time:35 mins

Total time:35 mins



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

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Storage: Refrigerate for 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 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sambal oelek or chile paste of your choice, plus more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 cup white wine or pasta water, or more as needed
  • 8 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon grated parmesan or pecorino Romano cheese, plus more as needed
  • 2 scallions, chopped, for serving

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

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

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

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

Remove from the heat, sprinkle with chopped scallions and a little more cheese. Serve hot.

Per serving (1 generous cup)

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

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

Adapted from “Good Enough” by Leanne Brown (Workman Publishing, 2022).

Tested by Emily Heil; email questions to

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