Chili pasta with arugula and coriander seeds

September 2, 2010 at 4:15 pm (B_, Dark leafy greens, Italian, Other, Pasta, Quick weeknight recipe, Starches)

This recipe comes from the cookbook Rancho la Puerta, by Bill Wavrin.  I was intrigued by the idea of a somewhat Italian-style pasta but with coriander seeds and chilis as the main flavoring.  I made a few modifications though.


  • 12 ounces whole wheat pasta (Wavrin calls for 16 ounces pasta)
  • 4 Tbs. olive oil (Wavrin calls for 2 tsp. oil)
  • 6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced (Wavrin calls for 3 garlic cloves)
  • 4 dried chili peppers (Wavrin calls for 1 dried chile de arbol)
  • 2 Tbs. coriander seeds
  • 4 cups (6 oz.) whole arugula leaves (Wavrin calls for 6 cups chopped arugula leaves)
  • 3.5 ounces parmesan, grated (Wavrin calls for 1/4 cup grated)


  1. Put on water to boil for the pasta.  When it comes to a boil salt the water then add the pasta.
  2. Toast the chiles in a skillet for 3-5 minutes.  Remove and cool, then chop.
  3. Add the coriander seeds to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant.  Crush with a mortar.
  4. When the pasta is just about done:  Add the oil to the pan and cook the chopped chile, coriander seeds, garlic, and arugula for 1-2 minute.  Add the drained, cooked pasta and the cheese.  Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6.

My notes

I liked this recipe.  The garlic and chile peppers and coriander gave it some heat and a bit of exotic flavor.  The arugula added a lovely fresh green color.  Note that no salt is needed in the recipe because the pasta is cooked in salted water and the cheese is salty.  If I make it again, however, I’ll probably do a few things differently.  First, I think I might try it with a little less olive oil and/or parmesan.  The pasta was quite rich.  Second, I might up the coriander a bit.  Surprisingly the coriander flavor was rather subtle.  I would probably use 8 ounces of arugula.  I didn’t cut up my chili–rather, I toasted it along with the coriander and ground them together in the mortar.  But the chili pepper didn’t grind up that well, and I ended up with pretty big pieces.   Maybe next time I’d use only 2 or 3 chilies and cut them up well.  Finally, I think this recipe needs a little acid.  Probably a squirt of lemon juice would be enough, but perhaps some lemon zest would also be a nice addition.

My final complaint about this recipe is that it’s simply not all that filling.  It needs more veggies I think, or more protein.  What could I add that wouldn’t detract from the simplicity of the dish?  Or maybe I should just serve a veggie on the side?

Rating: B



  1. Cookbook review: Rancho la Puerta « The captious vegetarian said,

    […] Chile pasta with arugula and coriander seeds.  I made this recipe, but added more olive oil and parmesan.  I liked it.  The garlic and chile peppers and coriander gave it some heat and a bit of exotic flavor.  The arugula added a lovely fresh green color.   I’d make some changes next time though. Original recipe:  1 chile de arbol, 2 Tbs. coriander seeds, 1 pound pasta, 2 tsp. oil, 3 garlic cloves thinly sliced, 6 cups chopped arugula leaves, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan.  Toast the chile for 3-5 minutes.  Chop.  Put the coriander seeds in the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Crush with a mortar.  Add oil to pan and cook the chopped chile, coriander seeds, garlic, and arugula for 1-2 minutes.  Add the cooked pasta and cheese. … I used 2 chiles, 1 Tbs. coriander seeds, 6 ounces pasta, 1 Tbs. oil, 3 large cloves garlic, 3 ounces arugula, 1.75 ounces parmesan. […]

  2. Roasted butternut squash with coriander seeds « The captious vegetarian said,

    […] of coriander seeds. I love roasted butternut sqush, and I quite liked all the coriander seeds in this recipe, and so I decided to give this one a […]

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