This pasta dish is unique.
Just about all the flavor comes from paprika.
Smoky Paprika Pasta Sauce
Paprika and smoked paprika are both used in this homemade sauce.
The other major flavor contributor is liquid smoke.
Liquid smoke is basically smoky grill flavor in liquid form. Just a little bit of liquid smoke can transform a dish. It adds notes of smokiness to this sauce that, as you probably guessed, perfectly complement the smoked paprika.
A Quick Meal
The other great thing about this Smoky Paprika Pasta is that it comes together in 30 minutes or less.
You’ll notice in the recipe instructions that the pasta is cooked only 3/4 of the way before we add the sauce and 1 cup of reserved pasta water.
Cooking the pasta for its remaining few minutes in the sauce helps infuse the pasta with more flavor. It also enriches the sauce with gluten from the pasta. This makes the sauce creamier and thicker.
Make Smoky Paprika Pasta!
Make this Smoky Paprika Pasta for a flavorful, quick, and easy weeknight meal.
With the added spinach and peas, you can even feel good about having seconds.
A Few Things!
Here’s my favorite liquid smoke [aff. link]. You can’t go wrong with the Mesquite or Hickory Smoked flavors. I rotate between the two. They’re both delicious.
You can also find all three of these ingredients in my Amazon store here.
Smoky Paprika Pasta
For the sauce:
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 2 garlic cloves
- ¾ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp paprika
- ¾ tsp smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ⅛ tsp ground black pepper
- 3 Tbsp Parmesan, plus more for serving, if desired
- 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast, optional, but highly recommended
- ½ tsp liquid smoke
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 Tbsp water
- ¾ pound pasta, I like to use fettuccini, linguine, or spaghetti with this sauce
- 1 cup pasta water, reserved
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 4 cups spinach
- 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced, plus more for serving, if desired
Start cooking the pasta
- Begin cooking the pasta according to the instructions on the package.
Make the sauce
- While the pasta cooks, make the Smoky Paprika sauce.
- To the bowl of your food processor, add the pine nuts, garlic cloves, sea salt, paprika, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, Parmesan, and nutritional yeast (if using).
- Pulse a few times to get things going, then process until everything comes together and becomes small flecks.
- Now add the olive oil, liquid smoke and 2 Tbsp of water. Process until everything comes together and a sauce forms. It will still have some texture from the pine nuts, and that's ok.
Finish the sauce
- At this point the pasta should be ¾ of the way cooked. Don't forget to reserve 1 cup of pasta water, then drain the pasta.
- Put the drained pasta back into the pot you cooked it in. Now quickly take ½ cup of the reserved pasta water, and add it to the Smoky Paprika sauce in the food processor. Process until the pasta water is completely incorporated into the other sauce ingredients. Sauce is done.
Bring it all together
- Quickly add ½ of the sauce to the drained pasta, and turn the heat to medium-low under the pot. With tongs or a large spoon and fork, continuously stir the sauce and the pasta together for the remaining quarter of cooking time. (For most pasta, this will be about 3 minutes.)
- Once the first half of the sauce is completely incorporated into the pasta, add the remaining ½ cup of reserved pasta water, and the remaining half of the sauce.
- Fold the water and sauce into the pasta with your tongs a few times, then add the peas, spinach, and parsley. The heat from the pasta will cook the peas through, and wilt the spinach.
- At this point, the pasta has probably finished cooking. Taste, and turn the heat off if the pasta is cooked to al dente perfection. If it's not there yet, keep the heat on, and continue cooking and stirring for an additional 1-2 minutes.