Mexican
Espagueti Rojo in a bowl garnished with crumbled cotija cheese.

Creamy, spicy and flavorful, these espagueti rojo are made with perfectly cooked pasta and topped with a creamy Mexican tomato-based sauce.

Pair it with chicken Milanese or shrimp mojo de ajo for the most satisfying Mexican dinner.

Espagueti Rojo in a bowl garnished with crumbled cotija cheese.

What are Red Spaghetti?

Espagueti rojo is a traditional Mexican pasta with a homemade tomato sauce. I added cream cheese and crema mexicana to make it more decadent and give it a little more body and flavor than a regular tomato sauce, but you can find both in Mexico.

This is similar to espagueti verde (green spaghetti), but uses tomatoes instead of poblano peppers. Both Mexican pastas are usually served as a side dish with delicious recipes, but you can add proteins like grilled chicken or shrimp to make them a main dish.

Here's why I love this recipe:

  • Ready in just 30 minutesThese red spaghetti are ready in just 30 minutes, making them a great side dish or main dish for weeknight dinners.
  • Use simple ingredients. Using easy and simple ingredients is always a plus. This recipe uses simple and affordable ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen.
Ingredients for red spaghetti on a table.

Ingredients of Red Spaghetti

  • Roma Tomatoes: I used ripe, plump Roma tomatoes. You can also use a can of peeled tomatoes.
  • Garlic and onion: Essential for adding depth of flavor to tomato sauce.
  • Olive oil: Olive oil is used for cooking and reducing tomato sauce. You can also use butter for a richer flavor.
  • Mexican Cream and Cream Cheese: These ingredients add body and a slight tartness to the tomato sauce, taking it to the next level.
  • Spaghetti: This recipe traditionally calls for the use of regular spaghetti, but you can use any other type of pasta you prefer.
  • Fresh cheese: This dish is usually garnished with queso fresco. It adds a hint of saltiness to balance the creamy pasta. You can also use cotija or parmesan.

How to Make Red Spaghetti

Prepare the tomato sauce. In a small saucepan, place the tomatoes and enough water to cover them. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, cover, and boil the tomatoes until they are soft and the skins begin to peel off, about 10 minutes.

Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the tomatoes and let them cool slightly. Once cooled, remove and discard the skin.

Place the peeled tomatoes, reserved cooking water, garlic cloves, white onion, and kosher salt in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and set the tomato mixture aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the tomato mixture and cook until it reduces and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the crema mexicana and cream cheese to the skillet. Whisk constantly until fully incorporated into the sauce, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cook the pasta. In a large pot, bring water to a boil and add salt. Cook spaghetti al dente according to package directions. Drain pasta and add back to pot.

Mix the pasta with the sauce. Add the reserved pasta sauce to the pot with the pasta and stir gently until the pasta is evenly coated. Continue cooking for another 2 minutes until the pasta and sauce are well combined.

Garnish and serve. Serve the pasta in bowls and garnish with queso fresco.

Recipe Tips

  • Tomatoes – Instead of fresh Roma tomatoes, you can use a can of peeled tomatoes.
  • Sour cream – To obtain an even creamier result, you can replace the Mexican cream with sour cream.
  • Pasta – This recipe is traditionally used with spaghetti or linguine, but you can also use a short pasta such as farfalle.

Serving suggestions

Red spaghetti is usually served with proteins such as chicken Milanese, crispy pork chops, and mojo de ajo shrimp.

You can also turn this dish into a vegetarian dish by adding roasted corn, zucchini, peppers or mushrooms.

Storage and heating

To store, place in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

To reheat, microwave for 30 second intervals until thoroughly heated. You may need to add a splash of cream or milk to maintain the creamy consistency of the sauce.

Other recipes

Red Spaghetti

Preparation: 5 minutes

Cooked: 25 minutes

Total: 30 minutes

Espagueti rojo are perfectly cooked spaghetti, topped with a creamy Mexican red tomato sauce and garnished with queso fresco.

Instructions

  • Add the Roma tomatoes and enough water to completely cover them in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes or until softened and the skins begin to peel off.

  • Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then remove the tomatoes from the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a bowl or plate. Let them cool slightly until you can handle them.

  • Peel the tomatoes and place them in a blender with the reserved cooking water, garlic, white onion and salt. Blend until smooth and set aside.

  • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the blended tomato mixture and cook for 10-15 minutes until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon.

  • Add the cream cheese and crema to the skillet. Whisk constantly until the cream cheese and crema are fully incorporated, about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.

  • Fill a large stockpot or Dutch oven with water and add a generous amount of kosher salt. Bring to a boil, add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes or according to package directions.

  • Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Pour in the reserved creamy tomato sauce and toss until the pasta is evenly coated.

  • Cook for another 1-2 minutes to allow the sauce to blend with the pasta.

  • Serve in bowls and garnish with queso fresco.

Notes

  • Tomatoes – Instead of fresh Roma tomatoes, you can use a can of peeled tomatoes.
  • Sour cream – To obtain an even creamier result, you can replace the Mexican cream with sour cream.
  • Pasta – This recipe is traditionally used with spaghetti or linguine, but you can also use a short pasta such as farfalle.

Nutritional information

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 394kilocalorie (20%), Carbohydrates: 53G (18%), Protein: 12G (24%), Fat: 15G (23%), Saturated fats: 3G (15%), Polyunsaturated fats: 1G, Monounsaturated fat: 4G, Cholesterol: 36mg (12%), Sodium: 855mg (36%), Potassium: 481mg (14%), Fiber: 3G (12%), Sugar: 8G (9%), Vitamin A: 1278IU (26%), C vitamin: 17mg (21%), Soccer: 133mg (13%), Iron: 1mg (6%)

Photographs by Ashley McLaughlin.

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