The heartiness of an Italian bolognese, with the vibrant herbaceousness of a Thai green curry, kicked up with the richness of coconut cream and creamy peanut butter, this insanely delicious pasta dish has quickly become my favorite vegan pasta dish of all time.
I came up with this dish almost by accident, or moreover, I came up with it out of necessity. And hunger.
A few months ago, Ben and I had returned home from helping out a friend, and we were both ravenously hungry. Having just purchased a new stainless steel pan that I was eager to test out, I promised that I could quickly throw together a hearty dish using random odds and end, and ingredients that I had on hand.
My fridge is always full of jars with the remnants of sauces and pastes stuck to the bottom, so I knew I had a lot to work with. Without even thinking of which direction I wanted to go in, I just started taking random things out of fridge, and lining them up on the counter.
There were some sliced mushrooms that were about to turn, some leftover green curry paste from a few night prior, a bit of tomato paste from who-knows-when, some chopped onion, and a few spoonfuls of peanut butter clinging to the bottom of a jar.
Deciding that a pasta would be the best base to use for whatever I threw together, I set a pot of water to a boil, and pulled out a jar of rigatoni.
Having just made a delicious cream of mushroom soup base for my Brussels Sprouts Casserole, I decided to start this dish off the same way, by caramelizing the diced mushrooms and onions. But what about the oil? It was time to make a decision on the inevitable direction and flavor profile of the dish.
A few months prior, I had helped Jackie Sobon of Vegan Yack Attack cook her Kim Chi Mac and Cheese outside at Life is Beautiful. For hours, I stood in the Vegas heat sauteing pound and pounds of mushrooms on a flat top grill using sesame oil. Remembering that incredible smell, and the amazing flavor that the sesame oil brought to the mushrooms, and decided that was the direction I needed to head in.
(Note: That Kimchi Mac and Cheese recipe can be found in her newest cookbook “Vegan Yack Attack’s Plant-Based Meal Prep: Weekly Meal Plans and Recipes to Streamline Your Vegan Lifestyle”. Affiliate link: HERE)
Trader Joe’s has recently started carrying Chili Onion Crunch, with is pretty much chili crisp, with is pretty much chili oil with a ton of chili seeds in it. At the time I was making this dish, I was pretty much adding this Chili Crunch to everything that I could, so I decided to throw a bit of that in there as well.
While the pasta cooked, I kept adding things to the sauce and tasting and adjusting, and by the time the noodles were done, I had a sauce that was truly profound.
There’s something about the way these flavors play together and marry yet stand out. The dish is perfectly balanced, and heightened with brightness of fresh cilantro, and the crunch of roasted peanuts.
As strange as a fusion of Thai and Italian cooking sounds, trust me on this one. It’ll quickly become your favorite vegan pasta dish as well.
Watch the video below, and then scroll down for the full written and printable recipe.
The deep herbaceousness of Thai green curry mixed with the richness of a classic bolognese sauce.
- 12 ounces dry rigatoni
- 5 to 8 ounces cremini or button mushrooms, diced
- 1/2 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 to 2 tablespoons chili crisp or chili oil*
- 2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons vegan green curry paste
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter (unsweetened)
- 1/2 cup coconut cream or 1 cup full fat coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce**
- ½ cup frozen green peas or green beans, cut into ¼ inch pieces
- Fresh cilantro roughly chopped
- Roasted and salted peanuts roughly chopped
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook your rigatoni according to package directions.
To a large, 12” skillet on medium heat, add the chili crisp, and sesame oil. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms and onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until very golden and caramelized.
When the onions and mushrooms are quite dark, add the curry paste and tomato paste. Cook for about 3 minutes or until the pastes have darkened and very fragrant. Add about ½ cup of simmering pasta water to deglaze and remove any stuck on bits from the bottom of the pan.
While there’s still a bit of liquid in the pan, add the peanut butter, coconut cream, Liquid Aminos and sweet soy sauce. Stir to combine.
Allow the sauce to simmer and reduce until it is a thick gravy consistency. If it is gets too reduced you can always add a bit more pasta water. Turn off the heat, and add the frozen peas.
Reserve a cup of pasta water before draining your pasta. Pour drained rigatoni into the pan and toss with the sauce, adding just enough pasta water to make sure the sauce fully coats the pasta.
Serve immediately topped with fresh cilantro and chopped peanuts.
*If you don’t like spice, you can just use a neutral-flavored oil or olive oil.
**If you can’t find sweet soy sauce, just double the Liquid Aminos (2 tablespoons), and add ½ teaspoon of sugar or agave