Rigatoni with Chorizo and Spicy Chipotle Cream Sauce

As much as I tried to fight it, it seems that Autumn has officially come and settled in for the next few months. Along with jackets and warmer clothing, I find myself being drawn to heartier, more comforting recipes for dinner. The kind of dishes that come together quickly, and are best shared in large bowls around the table with family and friends.

This Rigatoni with Chorizo and Spicy Chipotle Cream Sauce is a new favorite pasta dish that I'm fairly confident will be making many appearances on our table during the coming months. It's the first of several Latin-inspired pasta recipes I've been creating as part of my partnership with Barilla this Fall, and I have to say it may be hard to beat!

Creamy and comforting, it uses some of my favorite traditional Latin ingredients--smoky chipotle peppers, spicy Mexican chorizo, bright fresh cilantro, and combines them in a rich and creamy sauce that's incredibly satisfying, and perfect after a long day of work.

For this dish, I chose Barilla Mezzi Rigatoni--a small pasta shape that is perfect with the rich sauce as it seems to scoop it up in every bite. You can easily substitute any of your other favorite small pasta shapes--penne or large shells would work well, too--to personalize the dish for your family.

Depending on what pasta shape you choose, be sure to cook them 1-2 minutes LESS than the package directions so that you get "al dente" perfection (that's about 9 minutes for the Mezzi Rigatoni, but may be a couple minutes more or less depending on the pasta shape you choose) before adding to the sauce.

(Click here to check out some of my favorite tips for cooking perfect pasta every time.)

Note that if you have a busy week, this is actually one of those dishes that can be prepared in advance. I love to make a big batch on a Sunday afternoon when I have more time, then reheat during the week.

It's a great way to enjoy a homemade meal and quality time with your family, without having to spend much time during the busy workweek to prepare it. All you have to do is toss together a quick salad to serve along with the pasta, and you have a complete meal the whole family will enjoy together!

For more easy pasta recipes with Latin flavors, visit pastaatuestilo.com. This is a sponsored post written as part of my ongoing partnership with Barilla, however, the recipes and opinions are entirely my own. I have not been paid to publish positive sentiments towards Barilla or their products.

Barilla Rigatoni with Chorizo and Spicy Chipotle Cream Sauce
Serves 8

1 pound box of Barilla Mezzi Rigatoni or other small pasta shape (like penne or large shells)
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 pound fresh Mexican chorizo, removed from casings (you can also substitute fresh turkey or chicken chorizo for a lighter option)
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon smoked spanish paprika (optional)
Zest of one whole lemon, finely grated
3 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 bunch cilantro, finely minced + more for garnish
1 cup grated cotija cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring 1 gallon of water to boil in a large pot. Once the water is boiling, season  with 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt.

While the water boils, place a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Cook the onions for 2-3 minutes, until translucent, then add the fresh chorizo, breaking it up with a wooden spoon and cooking until fully browned (about 5 minutes). Add the red bell pepper, garlic, the chipotle peppers (use 1 or 2 depending on how much spice you like), the paprika, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, the heavy cream, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a gentle simmer for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly. Remove from heat.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook 1-2 minutes less than package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water, and add the cooked pasta to the sauce along with the cilantro and return to the heat for 1-2 minutes, tossing to coat well. Add a little bit of the reserved pasta water to thin the sauce if it seems too thick.

Remove from heat, stir in the cotija cheese, and season with black pepper and additional salt to taste. Garnish with additional cilantro just before serving.

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