The Creamy Curry Pasta Our Editors Are Obsessed With

Pantry ingredients do the heavy lifting in this weeknight winner.
Red Curry Pasta
Photograph by Isa Zapata, Food Styling by Emilie Fosnocht, Prop Styling by Emma Ringness

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Pasta superstars may come and go like clockwork, but pasta alla vodka has held its spot in the home cook hall of fame and on restaurant menus for longer than most. Creamy, tangy, and a little bit sweet, it hits all the notes—so it’s not shocking that it’s racked up such staying power and cultural capital.

But anything great is worth innovating on, right?

Enter Creamy Red Curry Pasta. With a few clever subs, associate food editor Rachel Gurjar employs many of the same principles as pasta alla vodka to inform this riff, resulting in a bowl of spaghetti with even more flavor. While replicating the creaminess and color of traditional pasta alla vodka, Rachel put her spin on it with “much more umami, spice, and deep flavors,” she says. It’s supremely pantry-friendly, ripe for a spot in your weeknight dinner arsenal.

Where pasta alla vodka gains much of its flavor and bright orange hue from tomato paste, here red curry paste does the heavy lifting. Cooking it down with softened shallots and garlic creates a warm, fragrant base for this silky sauce. Red curry yields both intense flavor and a healthy dose of heat—the paste itself is traditionally made with ingredients like chili peppers, lemongrass, and galangal. (If you want to cut down on the spice level, you can use less paste.)

store-bought curry paste

Maesri Red Curry Paste (Pack of 4)

Coconut milk steps in for heavy cream, providing the same creamy quotient but with added sweetness and fragrance. You’ll use the whole cans of both coconut milk and curry paste, meaning no half-finished containers lodged in the back of your fridge.

A few squeezes of lemon at the very end, right after you’ve removed the dish from heat, is a nonnegotiable, says Rachel. It brightens the sauce and adds acid normally delivered by tomato paste. The resultant sauce, with a little help from reserved pasta water, is supremely creamy and just the right amount of spicy, hugging every noodle.

Pasta la vista:
Red Curry Pasta
This riff on pasta alla vodka swaps in Thai red curry paste for tomato paste and coconut milk for cream, resulting in extra intensity and spicy-sweet flavor.
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