Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Peruvian pasta bolognese

Spicy Peruvian-style pasta bolognese is hearty, cool-weather comfort food with a garlicky ginger kick.

Peruvian style pasta bolognese with a spicy kick

I was asked in an interview recently what my favorite comfort foods are. Hmmm, let's see: well, there's pasta, pasta and ... oh wait, yes ... more pasta.

(I can't help it. I'm Italian. On both sides of my family.)

And I'm talking real pasta. Even though I'm a largely healthy (or healthier) food blogger, don't get me started on the "veggie pasta" spiralizer craze. Long strands of zucchini are no more pasta than slabs of fried eggplant are bacon. Sorry, I'm just not buyin' it.

But I do realize that regular pasta-based carbo-loading isn't the best if you're not a long-distance runner; therefore, I've been experimenting lately with healthier pasta varieties, such as whole wheat or quinoa pastas.  I have to because I don't think there's any way that I could ever voluntarily limit my pasta intake. 

Sometimes, however, a recipe is so good that it simply requires old-fashioned semolina pasta and nothing else. This Peruvian bolognese is one such recipe.

The recipe is based on a Peruvian dish called tallarin saltado, a noodle stir-fry made with beef or chicken, onions, a few tomatoes, ginger and other spices. This version takes the same flavors but melds them into a spicy bolognese-style sauce using pork sausage ... with no stir-frying required.

Plus, there's ginger, chili garlic sauce and a wee bit of curry flavor to give it a nice spicy kick. Booyah.

After pulling on your chunky sweater and favorite boots, you may think of hearty chili or soup as comfort food when fall arrives, but this pasta bolognese is cool-weather comfort, Ninj-style.

Are you a pasta addict, too? Do you have a favorite non-semolina pasta that you think I should try? Leave a comment: The Ninj wants to know.

Pasta bolognese, done in a Peruvian style, with spicy ginger sauce

Peruvian Pasta Bolognese

Adapted from Food and Wine

1-inch piece ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
5 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
1 lb spaghetti, bucatini, fettucine or other long pasta
1 pound pork sausage
1 red onion, finely diced
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Using a stick blender or mini food processor, puree the ginger, garlic, vinegar, chili garlic sauce, curry powder, pepper and ONE TABLESPOON of the soy sauce until smooth. Set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions. While it cooks, heat a skillet over medium heat, add the sausage and cook, breaking up the clumps of meat, until browned (about 7-8 minutes). Remove using a slotted spoon and set aside. Drain off all but about 1 tablespoon of the sausage fat from the pan and add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes, then return the sausage to the pan and add the tomatoes and the remaining 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Increase the heat to high and boil for a minute or two. Add the chicken stock and the reserved ginger-garlic sauce and bring the mixture back to a boil.

Remove from the heat and combine the pasta, the sauce and the cheese, tossing well. Lastly, gently stir in the cilantro and season to taste with salt.

-- print recipe --


  1. Wow, that looks really yummy! Is it very spicy?

    1. Knowing your spice tolerance, you can just back off the chili garlic sauce a little and it will be plenty spicy for you!

  2. Super, thanks. One last question; where in the store does one locate chili garlic sauce?

    1. In the Asian section -- it's pretty widely available (I use the Huy Fong brand).

  3. Pasta is my favorite comfort food too! This needs to get in my belly!

  4. Mother of all that is holy, that looks amazing. I love, love, love the ginger and curry addition. I'm not sure I could get my regular bolognese-loving daughter on board, but my husband and I would devour this!

    1. Thanks! The ginger gives it that extra somethin'-somethin' -- you'll love it.

  5. oh that is so delicious looking, and as the cooler weather rolls in, I could just snuggle under a blanket with a giant bowl of this!

  6. Pasta is comfort food around here as well, and should be enjoyed all the time! This looks so good, I can't wait to try it! And NEVER should zucchini be considered noodles!

  7. I grew up on pasta, but we always had the boring penne pasta... None of the fun-shaped stuff at our house! Love all the sausage in your dish too!

  8. Who knew Peruvians did pasta??! This looks delicious and hearty!

    1. I know, Andi, right? And their version is actually more of a stir-fry, which I wouldn't have expected either. But they're totally on to something! :-)

  9. Bang on, I have to say I do love a bit of courgette ribbon, but I haven't yet put it in a pasta dish, I can't bring myself too. I have brown rice pasta and it kicks balls! This looks lush, where on earth can i get chill garlic sauce?! That sounds proper good!

    1. Emma, you can get chili garlic sauce (I use the ubiquitous Huy Fong brand) at an Asian market or through Amazon -- I even checked the UK version for you. :-) Hope you give it a try!

  10. We're starting to get cooler nights in Atlanta and my body is starting to crave heavier dishes, like this one. Sounds like a fantastic twist on an Italian classic. My partner is Italian and I've gotta make this one for him. Great post, Ninj!

    1. I'm Italian, too, Bill and I love this because it's got such a different and unexpected set of flavors -- hope you both enjoy it!