Chitalian Fusion is what we dubbed this pairing of satay like flavors with pasta and green herbs. Flavorful, but not too hot. You may not expect bright, Asian-inspired flavors to be paired with Italian rotini pasta, but it’s a great choice for holding onto the sauce. Like Pad Thai, although easier to eat than with the long noodles—yet where are the veggies?
My initial issue was the overall drab color of the dish. Cooked pork, with regular pasta, peanut butter and scallions—where’s the color? So I started with tri-colored rotini, and added snow peas and three small, different colored baby bell peppers. Now it was a fiesta on a plate, visually appealing enough to want to dive in.
Rotini with Ground Pork and Spicy Peanut Sauce
- Kosher salt
- 12 oz. tri-colored rotini
- 1-1/2 Tbs. peanut oil
- 8 oz. snow peas, strings removed, cut in half on a diagonal
- 3 baby bell peppers, stems removed, seeded, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced into 1/4″ strips
- 6 medium scallions, thinly sliced, whites and greens separated
- 2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb. ground pork
- 3 Tbs. soy sauce
- 2 Tbs. unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 Tbs. sambal oelek or other Asian chile paste; more to taste
- 1 Tbs. granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter, preferably natural
- 2/3 cup chicken broth
- 1 Tbs. Asian sesame oil
- 1 medium lime, cut into 4 wedges
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro as garnish
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the rotini and cook according to package directions until al dente.
- Meanwhile, heat a 12-inch heavy-duty skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, when hot toss in the snow peas and bell pepper strips. Cook about 2 minutes and remove to another dish.
- Add the scallion whites to the hot pan. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 1 minute.
- Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring for 30 seconds.
- Crumble in the pork and cook, stirring occasionally, until it loses its pink color, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the soy sauce, vinegar, sambal oelek, and sugar and cook until bubbling. Add the peanut butter and stir until incorporated.
- Pour in the broth, stir well, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, drain the pasta. Add the pasta and the snow pea mix to the pork and scallions.
- Thin the sauce with the pasta water, if necessary. Divide among plates or bowls, squeeze a lime wedge over each serving, and top with cilantro.
Adapted from a recipe by Bruce Weinstein, Mark Scarbrough from Fine Cooking