A recipe for Pasta con Salsa Caruso (Uruguayan Pasta with Caruso Sauce). This thick, creamy sauce is packed with sliced mushrooms, ham, and Parmesan cheese and perfect for pairing with your favorite pasta.
Salsa Caruso is a classic pasta sauce from Uruguay influenced by Italian flavors. The milk and cream base has a generous amount of beef bouillon mixed right in to give the sauce an almost gravy-like quality. It also includes sliced mushrooms, ham, and Parmesan cheese.
The sauce is generally paired with capellettis (cappelletti) and other stuffed pastas. I used tortellini, but it can be tossed with any shape that will hold up well such as shells.
I found conflicting reports on the sauce’s origin. It was either developed in 1915 as a way to impress the Italian opera singer, Enrico Caruso, while he was visiting Montevideo (the capital of Uruguay) or in 1950 by the Montevideo restaurant, Mario y Alberto, as a tribute to the late Neapolitan tenor.
Either way, this sauce has left quite the impression and La Asociación Uruguaya de Gastronomía (Uruguayan Association of Gastronomy) declared the dish an Uruguayan cultural heritage.
Claire took one bite of the coated tortellini and immediately said “yum.” Now in the interest of full disclosure, she has also said yum to ice chips and hand sanitizer in the past week. We are still working on her critiquing skills. At least this time I definitely agree with her and there wasn’t a single piece leftover.
Some recipes also include walnuts, diced onions, or even red peppers. For extra richness, you can use 2 cups of cream instead of 1 cup milk/1 cup cream.
The Príncipe de Nápoles (Prince of Naples) version includes grated mozzarella or gruyere and is baked gratin-style.
Looking for more sauces to pair with pasta?
- Šalša (Croatian Tomato Sauce)
- Garlic Butter Sauce for Pasta
- Ndundari con Salsa di Pomodoro e Basilico (Pasta Dumplings with Tomato and Basil Sauce)
Pasta con Salsa Caruso (Uruguayan Pasta with Caruso Sauce) Recipe
Adapted from The Spruce and Las Salsas de la Vida
Pasta con Salsa Caruso (Uruguayan Pasta with Caruso Sauce)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup button mushrooms thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon beef bouillon
- 3 1/2 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2/3 cup diced smoked ham
- Salt, black pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg to taste
- 1 pound pasta cooked until al dente according to package directions
- Freshly chopped parsley for garnish
- In a wide pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and most of the water has evaporated.
- Stir in the flour until incorporated and it begins to turn golden. Slowly whisk in the milk, then the cream and beef bouillon. Continue to whisk until the sauce begins to thicken.
- Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese and ham. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Serve immediately with cooked pasta and freshly chopped parsley for garnish.
Haha, Claire made me chuckle. 🙂 This looks absolutely fantastic! I love everything in this recipe…tortellini, mushrooms, cream, smoked ham, parmesan… I mean, what’s not to love?
This just looos so creamy and comforting. A must of a cool evening like tonight. All pasta sauces should have mushrooms in in my opinion.
WOW… I love that this creamy sauce has a gravy feel to it, that’s an extra bonus, SIGN me up, I think I’m going to try this later this week, it’s calling to me! Thanks for sharing- you just made my dinner planning that much easier!
This looks amazing! I love how simple this is so make and that creamy sauce looks to die for! Thank you for sharing!
Emily @ Recipes to Nourish
This looks so good! My husband would love this meal, so yummy with that silky cream sauce and the mushrooms and ham.
Absolutely love your recipe, the sauce looks wonderfully tasty!
This is one of the better-tasting recipes for this sauce. Closest version to one of my wife’s favorite dishes at Pesto Brothers in Flagtsaff. The ingredient list here does not include nutmeg (but is mentioned in directions). Nutmeg is what makes this. I use about 1/4 tsp.
Hi Steve! Thanks! So glad you enjoyed it. This is a favorite for us. The nutmeg is listed next to the salt and pepper to taste. About 1/4 teaspoon was perfect for us as well.
Our family is a pasta lover, but we have never tried any Uruguayan dish. This internationally recognized pasta meal is what I am going to cook next. I am excited. 🙂
This is my family’s new favorite dinner! Even my 1 year old loved it, and he’s known to be picky :).
I just made this pasta, and it was a huge success! Thank you for sharing!
This Pasta is a super Happy Meal. All the delicious combinations of meats and mushrooms takes this dish to another level. My family to love it for Dinner.
Ola, sou Uruguaia, e realmente este prato é maravilhoso, prático, e deixa qualquer jantar com um ar sofisticado, no ha como no impressionar com esta receita. Feliz em saber que tem agradado e conquistado o paladar de todos vcs, bjks
Muito obrigada Andrea!
Yes! This is a staple in Uruguay and kids especially love it. My kids had it for lunch at school in Montevideo and always with Gnocchi. BTW, it is considered good luck to have gnocchis on the 29th of the month. The kids still love it even though they are now grown. Love your international vibe!
I am from Uruguay, and my dad used the make THE most delicious capelletti with Caruso sauce. He used to add beef extract to it, which gave it a very distinct smell and flavor. I have never tasted a better sauce of this type anywhere else.