If you love pesto pasta, then you're going to be blown away by my Zhoug-Inspired Rigatoni. She's like pesto's Middle-Eastern (better) cousin. This dish takes less than 15 minutes to prepare and cook, so it's a great one for a weeknight dinner. Vibrant, spicy, aromatic, a great one to impress.
I absolutely love pesto, and when I discovered Zhoug, I thought it would be a perfect way to jumble up the two condiments and serve Zhoug with pasta! If you're a fan of jazzy pasta, you'll love my Barbie Pasta (beetroot pasta).
What is Zhoug?
Firstly, there are many different ways of spelling "zhoug". Some of its alternatives include "zhug", "skhug," "schug," or "s'chug".
Zhoug is a vibrant and aromatic Middle Eastern sauce that originates from Yemen and is found in an array of cuisines of the broader region. This flavourful condiment is a green, herbaceous flavour-bomb, typically made with a blend of fresh ingredients such as cilantro, parsley, and mint, along with garlic, green chilli peppers, and spices like cumin and coriander. The result is a bold and zesty sauce that strikes a gorgeous balance between heat, herbiness, and earthy undertones. Zhoug is incredibly versatile, enhancing a variety of dishes, from grilled meats and kebabs to vegetables and falafel. Whether used as a dip, marinade, or a finishing touch, Zhoug adds a burst of freshness and complexity to Middle Eastern cuisine, making it a favorite among those who appreciate bold and vibrant flavours.
So, for this recipe, we're putting a twist on the classic and authentic recipe to make it marry well with rigatoni, one of my favourite pasta shapes.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Quick - Get the pasta on, which takes around 10 minutes. Meanwhile, make your zhoug-inspired sauce. Combine it all together and voila, you've got yourself a delicious zesty meal in less than 15 minutes.
Fusion - Keeping cuisines firmly separated saddens me. So, this pasta dish lands somewhere in-between Italy and Yemen. The pasta and the condiment pair wonderfully together.
Easy - The zhoug-inspired sauce is so simple to prepare and only requires a handful of accessible ingredients. Just blend them all together in a food processor or blender, and you're ready to go! Sadly, this dish isn't made all in one pan, but if you're looking for one that is, you've got to try out my Lemon Boursin Pasta!
Parsley: Fresh parsley is essential for this dish. You can use the stalks too!
Coriander/cilantro: Fresh coriander/cilantro, once again, use the stalks, they hold a lot of flavour.
Green chilli: To add a touch of spice, one green chilli will suffice. I've kept in the seeds too. I wouldn't recommend going for a red chilli, as this will alter the colour of the sauce which will make it a browny colour...don't want that!
Garlic: Raw garlic cloves, peeled and added into the blender whole. You can use garlic powder if you've not got fresh garlic to hand.
Ground cumin: I've used ground cumin over cumin seeds, but if you only have cumin seeds then add them in.
Lemon: ½ juice of a lemon. You can use the other half to drizzle over the pasta at the end if you like extra tang.
Olive oil: Good quality olive oil or extra virgin olive oil for this one!
Parmesan: Freshly grated parmesan or pecorino cheese for extra flavour. Parmesan is one of those ingredients that pairs perfectly with a gorgeous sauce and pasta. If you're a huge fan like I am, then you've got to try out my Marry Me Chicken Tortellini, drowned in parmesan!
Walnuts: The walnuts add an earthy and whole texture to the sauce. I've chopped some up and sprinkled them on at the end too for a bit of crunch.
Pasta: Rigatoni is my choice of pasta, but this zhoug-inspired sauce would go really well with linguine too. One of my favourite pasta dishes is my Pork Belly Pasta dish, if you fancy giving it a go after this one!
Here's Some More Dinner Inspiration For You!
If you tried this Zhoug-Inspired Rigatoni or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below. Thank you!
- 15g fresh parsley plus extra for garnish
- 15g fresh coriander/cilantro
- 1 large green chilli, cut the tip off
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ lemon, juiced
- Salt and pepper
- 80ml olive oil
- 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese plus extra for garnish
- Handful of walnuts plus extra for garnish
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 150g rigatoni
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped
- Place your rigatoni in a pan of salted boiling water. Cook to packet instructions until al dente, then drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, blend your parsley, coriander, green chilli, garlic, ground cumin, lemon, olive oil, parmesan, walnuts, a pinch of salt and grind of pepper until smooth. Taste and season accordingly.
- Place a large frying pan on medium heat and add in the butter. Once melted, add in your cooked and drained pasta followed by your zhoug-inspired sauce. Give everything a good mix until the pasta is fully coated.
- Serve up onto your plates and garnish with finely chopped walnuts, parsley, red chilli, and a sprinkling of parmesan. Enjoy!