Pasta is the ultimate comfort food for many of us. But it doesn’t mean that you cannot get creative with it! This Creamy Miso Pasta recipe is proof that fusion foods can work extremely well. The umami element of miso paste from Japanese cuisine meets a satisfying Italian bowl of cacio e pepe – and it’s a match! Five simple ingredients, 15 minutes of your time, and you have delicious pasta in a creamy sauce with hints of garlic and that umami flavour of miso paste that we all crave. Perfect weeknight dinner with a bit of a difference!
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What Is Miso? Which Miso Type is Best For Miso Pasta?
Miso has been our favorite ingredient for years (in fact, Seb and I voted it the discovery of the year in 2017). We are never without sachets of miso soup in the cupboard (delicious warming snack, and low in calories!). And we almost always have a small tub of miso paste in the fridge. Besides making the obvious miso soup, we use it in broths as a base for Mushroom Ramen and in sauces. Or to make Miso-Glazed Cod, meat or Miso Aubergine.
What is more, miso has become a popular ingredient to use in desserts. It gives a hint of saltiness and goes extremely well with caramel and chocolate.
But what is miso? Miso, a traditional Japanese seasoning made from soybeans, is a tasty blend of sweet and salty flavours, lending a rich umami essence to your dishes. While deeply rooted in Japanese cuisine, its global popularity has surged in the last decade. This Japanese fermented paste is typically made with cultured soybeans, a specific grain, often rice or barley, and the pivotal addition of koji, a special mould.
Diverse miso varieties abound, yet a general rule prevails: the lighter the hue, the gentler and sweeter the miso’s profile. Yellow or white miso paste, therefore, finds its place in dressings and desserts, infusing them with a savoury umami reminiscent of salted caramel. For heartier stews and robust dishes, one should turn to the darker miso options, such as brown and red miso paste, as using them in moderation is essential to avoid overpowering all other flavours in the dish.
For this Miso pasta dish, we highly recommend using white miso paste.
5 basic ingredients that you can get in most larger grocery stores for this delicious meal! You can find quantities and full instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- spaghetti: can be replaced with linguine, bucatini or other long pasta shapes.
- butter: make sure to use unsalted butter, as miso will add plenty of seasoning.
- garlic cloves: peeled and minced or finely chopped.
- white miso paste: you may try red or brown miso paste in this recipe but you will have to play with the quantities and possibly add some heavy cream as a balancing ingredient. Red miso used in the same quantity will add too much flavour and will not be palatable.
- parmesan cheese: can be replaced with other hard cheese like Padano Grana or Pecorino Romano.
- To make Spicy Miso Pasta add a generous tablespoon of chili garlic sauce (or sriracha) to the sauce alongside miso paste.
- Boil or steam some green veggies like snap peas, pak choi or sliced tenderstem broccoli and stir them into the pasta last minute.
- Add sauteed mushrooms to your pasta – it’s the best addition. And our vote will always go to shiitake mushrooms!
- Experiment with the type of pasta you use: next time, why not try this recipe with brown rice pasta or soba noodles?
- The type of miso paste used in the recipe will change the flavour a lot – try different brands, or even red miso paste (but make sure to reduce the amount).
Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water for approx 2 minutes less than the packet states. It should be slightly harder than al dente.
Reserve a cup of pasta water (approx 200ml) before draining it.
In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the minced garlic, and stir it in the butter for approximately 30 seconds over medium-low heat.
Add the miso paste and half of the reserved pasta water and stir until miso dissolves into the butter and water.
Finally, add the cooked pasta, grated parmesan and the rest of the water. Continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes stirring continuously. The cheese should melt and the miso sauce should thicken, coating the pasta.
Season with extra salt and black pepper if required. Divide miso pasta between bowls, add your favourite toppings (suggestions in the text above) and serve immediately.
Miso pasta has a savoury, umami-rich flavour with a subtle, fermented tang and hints of garlic. It combines the earthiness of miso paste with creamy elements (butter and cheese), resulting in a uniquely satisfying taste.
The only substitute for Miso that we found is Korean Doenjang soybean paste. However, it is slightly saltier and darker in colour. It also doesn’t produce as smooth as sauce.
For the miso sauce to stick to your pasta, pasta needs to have a starchy coating. If you are rinsing your spaghetti before cooking, it will remove the starchy coating and your sauce will slip off. Another reason could be adding oil to your pasta before you coat it in the miso sauce.
Long noodles, like spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine or bucatini will work best. Short pasta types have nooks and crannies that will hold too much sauce and make the overall dish too salty.
What To Serve Miso Pasta With?
Miso pasta pairs well with a variety of ingredients, and the best part is, you can serve it with Asian-style or Western-style side dishes. Some popular choices to serve it with include vegetables like pan-fried tenderstem broccoli or sauteed mushrooms and garnishes like fresh herbs, sesame seeds, or sliced scallions for extra flavour and texture. Our favourite things to serve alongside Miso pasta include:
- Grilled Pak Choi Side Dish
- Raw Courgette Ribbon Salad with Honey & Earl Grey Dressing
- Sourdough Ciabatta
Miso butter pasta is definitely best served fresh out of the pan. But if you happen to have any leftovers, you can refrigerate them in an airtight container for up to 1 or 2 days. Note though, that over time, the noodles will absorb the miso pasta sauce, causing it to lose its velvety, saucy texture.
To reheat miso pasta, tip the pasta together with any leftover sauce at the bottom of the container into a frying pan and set it over low heat. Add a splash of water, heavy cream or milk and heat until warmed through. For best results, serve the pasta with extra cheese on top.
Other Quick and Easy Pasta Recipes
Looking for more simple comforting meals that centre around pasta? We’ve got you! Try some of our favourite recipes below:
- Spaghetti Aglio Olio e Peperoncino (Easy Chilli Garlic Pasta)
- Creamy Boursin Pasta (Quick & Easy Recipe)
- Beetroot Pasta With Feta (Only 7 Ingredients)
Creamy Miso Pasta (Easy, Five-Ingredient Recipe)
- 200 g spaghetti linguine or buccatini
- 30 g unsalted butter
- 2 garlic cloves peeled and minced
- 2 tablespoon miso paste we used white miso paste
- 50 g parmesan cheese finely grated
- Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water for approx 2 minutes less than the packet states. It should be slightly harder then al dente.
- Reserve a cup of pasta water (approx 200ml) before draining it.
- In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the miced garlic, and stir it in the butter for approximately 30 seconds over medium-low heat.
- Add the miso paste and half of the reserved pasta water and stir until combined.
- Finally, add the cooked pasta, grated parmesan and the rest of the water. Continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes stirring continuously. The cheese should melt and the miso sauce should thicken, coating the pasta.
- Season with extra salt and black pepper if required. Divide miso pasta between bowls, add your favourite toppings (suggestions in the notes) and serve immediately.