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Recipe: Pasta with Chorizo, Tomato & Butter Sauce

Pasta with Chorizo, Tomato & Butter Sauce

Pasta with Chorizo, Tomato & Butter Sauce

Pasta with Chorizo, Tomato & Butter Sauce

I have Marcella Hazan to thank for the inspiration for this sauce. And a previous job that drove me crazy, which inadvertently introduced me to her. I worked for a branch of the publisher that published her books, and every Xmas we would get a £25 voucher to spend on a book published by them. I went to the food section (which I sadly did not work for), and spied Marcella’s book and ordered that.

I learned so much about Italian cooking from her, her recipes are very precise, authentic, and work brilliantly. Her recipes sometimes have stories woven in too, and she is charming to read. One of her most simple recipes, her tomato sauce, is something that I cook all the time at home still today. I also learned the rite of passage that is proper carbonara from her book. If you don’t have her book, The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, you should buy it right away.

I am not alone. When Marcella recently passed away, many newspapers and blogs featured the tomato sauce recipe. The beauty of it is its simplicity and the use of great ingredients, which was Marcella’s hallmark. She never compromised. For this sauce, she used 2 x 400g tins of San Marzano tomatoes (protected by a DOP and more expensive, but so worth it) which she cooked with 5 tablespoons of butter and one onion (which was peeled, halved, and discarded after 45 minutes cooking, or when the butter separated from the tomatoes). It is a perfect sauce and so simple.

I use a lot of tomatoes in my everyday cooking. A tin of tomatoes can become so many things, and very quickly too. Yesterday, I had some fresh tomatoes, small fruity ones, that were on their way to becoming rotten if I didn’t use them very soon. Fresh tomatoes are great for a sauce but the skins and seeds can be a problem for texture and just plain getting stuck in your teeth. With larger tomatoes this can be resolved by peeling and deseeding, but doing this with tiny plum tomatoes would be akin to peeling grapes.

So, I stick them in my blender and blitz them, so that the skins are tiny near-invisible shreds and no longer a problem. The resulting tomato puree has a wonderful rich fruity flavour and is great for a sauce. You could pass it through a mouli at this point to get rid of the shrapnel, but I was hungry so I didn’t bother. And it didn’t really need it either.

I cooked the tomatoes with garlic, hot cooking chorizo and butter, for 45 minutes as Marcella does, and the result is a perfect Autumn sauce. Fruity and fresh from the tomato, the chorizo provides a perfect base note beneath it and the butter adds richness but it is still subtle. The whole thing jumps off the plate with intensity of flavour.

I used a soft hot cooking chorizo from Brindisa, a fridge staple for me since I first discovered it some years ago. In London, it is available from their shop and lots of delis, it is also available online. If you can’t get soft chorizo, don’t worry. Just use good dried chorizo. Use whichever pasta you like, I used a big shape that I had to hand, and that would house the chunks of chorizo perfectly, but linguine or spaghetti would be great too.


RECIPE: Pasta with Chorizo, Tomato & Butter Sauce

Serves 2


200g pasta of your choice (see above)
200g cooking chorizo, chopped into small chunks (or dried if you can’t get it)
a small pinch of chilli flakes, only if you can’t get hot (piccante) chorizo
300g small fruity tomatoes, blitzed into a puree with a blender
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 tbsp butter
sea salt


Sauté the chorizo for a few minutes, no oil is required for cooking chorizo as it will quickly release its own. Add the garlic for 20 seconds, then add the tomatoes and butter. Cook for 45 minutes over a gentle – medium heat, or until the butter separates from the sauce. Add water if the sauce gets too thick, as you don’t want it to stick and burn. Just a little at a time, don’t drown it.

Cook the pasta in salted water according to packet instructions in the last 10 – 15 minutes of cooking (depending on how much time you need).

Add the drained pasta to the sauce, reserving some pasta water to thin out the sauce if you need it (you may not – you be the judge). The chorizo is quite salty so you shouldn’t need to season it, but taste to test.

Eat immediately and enjoy!




  1. From one Irish girl to another, this sounds relish! Supper sorted for this evening and 6 year old happy minus the chilli, perhaps!!!

    • Oh it will still be great without the chilli, I just love chilli – enjoy! And nice to hear from a fellow cailín :)

  2. I make this a lot – cooking chorizos are always on standby :). I like to finish with a handful of spinach or frozen peas – the sweet peas work really well against the salty savoury chorizo.

    • Do you use butter in the sauce too, as per Marcella Hazan? If not, you must. I often finish with flat leaf parsley but kept it simple and worked with what I had yesterday. It doesn’t really need anything else I think. Perfect, just as it is!

      • I do, but it was per greed, not per Marcella :). I also use a good shake of fish sauce to boost the umami overload. The peas are partly in there so I can fool myself that it’s somewhat healthy!

      • It needs to be cooked for 45 minutes to get the Marcella affect and then you won’t need fish sauce :) Not with great fresh tomatoes, chorizo and butter.

    • N’duja would be great in this too. I have made it with it before. The meat will collapse into the sauce but it will make a perfect spicy ragu.

  3. Grace says

    Niamh – I always enjoy reading your blog, but this is my first time commenting. I just had to say how perfect this recipe was. I made it last night after a foul journey home (the tube was snarled up, same old same old) and the simplicity of the sweet tomatoes with the spicy/salty chorizo was amazing. I added plenty of chopped parsley at the end and it was heaven in a bowl – the perfect autumnal dinner! Thank you.

    • how lovely to hear from you and to read this lovely comment. So pleased you enjoyed it and that it cheered your evening :)

  4. This looks really good, chorizo is one of may favourite ingredients and it goes so well with pasta. Really looking forward to trying this one, thanks for sharing.

  5. Eileen Leavers says

    Hello! I made this last week, as soon as I read this post I had to try it for myself. It’s lovely! The butter really changes the sauce, I admit that I did not blitz my tomatoes but it was still so tasty. I’m making it again as I type this, no word of a lie, I know my husband will love it. The smell of freshly blitzed tomatoes was SO LUSH, just what I needed today, put a smile on my face.

    You do wonderful things, I enjoy your blog and your travels and I don’t read blogs regularly, yours is the exception. Really excited about Project Bacon, too! I know a lot has been happening for you and I just wanted to take a little amount of time to tell you that you do great things, wonderful things, and I love learning from you. Happy Monday to you! :)

    • Eileen, it is so so wonderful and heart warming to read your comment. You made my morning – thank you so much. Happy Tuesday to you! And so pleased you like the sauce too.

  6. OMG i love this blog! Your food looks so amazing and i am definitely going to try this one out for the family. Thanks and keep up the good work. PS. My belly is now rumbling like crazy. :)

  7. Karen says

    I made this tonight and it was delicious. Nice and simple but full of flavour – a great comforting dish!

    • Pleasure! Enjoy! If you haven’t made my Butternut Squash, Chickpea & Spinach curry you must. It is one of my most popular recipes and it is vegan :)

  8. Ronnie says

    Brilliant recipe, it’s the first time I have made an italian pasta with butter. Excellent on the pallet.

    I enjoy your blog and always look forward to new ideas and recipes.

    Thanks again


  9. Just tried your sauce, was inspired by the rich and silky colour of the sauce in your photo! I added a grated onion and used nduja (for the first time)…..this recipe will be on my blog soon (with due credit of course!!) and scribed into my ‘special’ kitchen diary. Really enjoy your blog, thank you.

  10. Catherine says

    Made this tonight……it was gorgeous!! Even my husband (who isn’t a huge tomato based sauce fan!) loved it!! Well definitely make this again!!

Over to you! Your comments - I would love to hear from you :)