rigatoni with chipotle cream sauce

bigrig main

Apologies for the long delay in posting – those of you who follow me on facebook I had to take a work trip to Mesa Verde National Park. For those of you aren’t familiar with it, it’s a national park located just outside of Mancos, Colorado… more on that to come later. For now, I will reward your patience with a delicious pasta recipe 🙂

Around here, we have a restaurant called Oregano’s, and at Oregano’s they have something called “the big rig pasta.” The big rig pasta consists of rigatoni in a spicy tomato-chipotle cream sauce. Crazy, right? Initially I was conflicted, what on earth is chipotle doing with pasta? But I love chipotle… So the shock faded away and was replaced with my undying love of all things chipotle.

Once I tasted the “big rig” pasta, I was hooked. When the craving struck, I was thinking about it for days. Seriously, days. Oregano’s isn’t a restaurant we can really go to very often because it’s always crowded. Even at “old person” dinner time, which is when BF and I like to eat, there is usually an unreasonably long wait. As much as I love Oregano’s, I do not love it enough to sit in the hot Arizona sun for an hour while we wait for a table to open up. The only way for me to satisfy this craving was to (attempt to) recreate the dish at home.

I used just a basic tomato cream sauce, and added a chipotle pepper (or two) to it. How much you add really just depends on how spicy you want it. If you add too much, the cream will help to mellow it out a bit, but not completely (it’s always easier to add more than to take it away). When I served it initially for dinner, it actually was a little bit shy of the amount of cream the sauce really needed. I adjusted the cream for round two and it had a much more rounded, well-balanced (less fiery) flavor. All-in-all, I consider this a win. It’ll get me through those tough times when I just need a “big rig” fix, but don’t want to have to wait around for it.

Chipotle-Tomato Cream Sauce

[ Printable Recipe ]

  • 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of your pan)
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 small celery ribs, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 – 2 chipotle peppers, minced
  • 1 28-oz can whole tomatoes
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1/2 cup (more or less) heavy cream
  • Fresh basil
  • Pasta, cooked according to package directions (I used rigatoni)
  1. Warm the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute, stirring, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir again to coat. Add garlic and stir until fragrant.
  2. Add tomatoes and crush with a spoon. Cover and cook at a gentle simmer for 45 minutes, or until the vegetables are completely tender. Stir and add chipotles & 4 basil leafs for last 15 minutes of cooking, simmering with lid slightly ajar.
  3. Remove basil and puree the sauce using an immersion blender (you can use a regular blender or food processor, but you will have to do it in batches and there will be lots of transferring of hot liquids and the like).
  4. Once pureed, stir in ¼ cup cream and place back over medium/medium-low heat, and bring the sauce just to a simmer.  Taste and adjust the seasoning, with salt and pepper, add more cream if desired. Add extra basil on top before serving.

* Sauce may be stored as is in refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.  If freezing, leave out the cream until you reheat the sauce, adding in the last 10 minutes of simmering before serving.