Simplicity is the essence of Italian cuisine. This super-easy, no fuss 20 minute salami pasta recipe brings all the flavour of salami to tomato for a fragrant, tangy sauce – learn how to make it at home with my easy-to-follow recipe.
Sometimes all I want for dinner is a sit-down! Often, I just want a dish that doesn't take forever but delivers big on flavour. The great thing about Italian food is that it can be super easy and quick to put together - this is what makes pasta with salami so appealing!
I first learned this dish way back in the 90s at the rather amazing Italian deli 'Valvona & Crolla' in Edinburgh, Scotland. A pasta-making class had us all making fresh dough, along with this simple sauce. From that moment it became (and still is) a regular go-to pasta recipe.
Salami - a ready-made flavour bomb
A great way to add flavour to any Italian pasta dish is to use an ingredient that comes with flavour built-in! Enter salami! This cured sausage has so much going for it, making it the perfect ingredient for a quick 20 minute pasta dinner. With so many varieties of Salami out there, using it as an ingredient can shape and change the taste of this dish infinitely. Spicy, mild, fennel infused and even truffle! - find the salami you like the best and bring your penne to life!
Stuff you'll need
There's not really much to this dish, most of the flavour comes from the salami so we can just add a few more essentials.
A little onion, fried in olive oil
Salami! Choose your adventure from the huge variety on offer. (remove the outer skin before cooking)
Garlic (you can chop it or add it whole to infuse the oil before removing at the end)
Tomato polpa or passata - essentially whizzed up tomatoes - not to be confused with tomato puree; don't use this, it's too strong for a sauce like this. Hunt out Mutti Polpa or a good whole San Marzano and whizz into a passata yourself.
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese to add a salty, umami hit of flavour. Parmigiano Reggiano is essential for any Italian!
Step by step - ready in 20 minutes
There's not really much to this dish, the whole affair is done and dusted in around 20 minutes.
Fry the onion until soft then add the salami and garlic cook for 4-5 minutes more until the salami has rendered a little.
Pour in the tomato and a little water and simmer for 5 mins.
Start cooking the pasta - everything will be ready soon. (remember to save a cupful of pasta cooking liquid to thin out the sauce)
Pasta meet sauce. When the pasta is cooked, so too is the sauce, drain the pasta and gently toss the two together, adding a little pasta water to help the sauce thin out a little.
Sprinkle the Parmigiano Reggiano over each bowl of pasta just before serving.
Salami Pasta is a wonderful marriage of colour, texture and flavour. You'll see just how easy and quick this dish is to get on the table - learn how by following my simple recipe. It's the perfect choice for a midweek dinner or lunchtime feast.
Pro tips and suggestions
Use different types of salami - there's a wide range of flavour combinations including spicy and mild. You should also consider Spanish Chorizo - obviously not Italian, but packed with smoky flavours that work excellently with this recipe.
Changing the pasta can make all the diffrerence. Experiment with your favourite. You should also consider making your own fresh egg pasta for an even better experience.
Meal prep - This pasta works well reheated from the fridge - I just add a little water before microwaving to keep it moist. You CAN freeze salami pasta, but in all honesty I'm not a big fan so wouldn't recommend.
Baked salami pasta - Mix up the pasta (undercook it by 3-4 minutes) with the sauce and about 3/4 cup pasta water and spread into a baking dish then sprinkle generously with mozzarella and bake in a 180ºC/350ºF oven for 15-20 mins.
Herbs - Bring some extra Italian flavour with fresh herbs. Add a stem of basil, oregano, marjoram or rosemary when you add the onion. Remove it before serving.
In a saucepan or deep frying pan, heat the oil until just hot. Add the onion and fry gently for 4-5 minutes until soft. Add the salami and garlic and continue to fry for 4-5 minutes until the salami has rendered out its fat.
Pour in the tomato and 1 cup of water and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook gently for 10 minutes. Season with salt & pepper then remove from the heat.
Cook the penne to the packet instructions in salted water - and when done, drain (retain about a cup of the cooking liquid).
Toss the pasta through the sauce, adding some of the cooking liquid to keep the dish nice and saucy.
Serve in bowls with Parmigiano Reggiano sprinkled over.