Mexican Pasta

March 19, 2011 § 1 Comment

J:  Chipotle chilies are one of my favorite ingredients ever.  I had some left over from another dish (that will be put up sometime soon), and I decided that rather than seek out some other recipe that would let me use them up, why not resort to my default way of using leftovers: pasta!  So, I came up with a pasta sauce based very loosely on the standard pizza sauce I’ve used before, and threw in a few extras to jazz up the pasta a bit, and this dish was the result.  It is super simple, so if you’re busy, it’s a good dish to just put together one evening.  I used a whole pound of pasta — I’ve been swamped with work recently, so I decided that it would be a good idea to have a lot of leftovers that I could just reheat instead of worrying about making something else — but you don’t have to.  The amounts for the sauce here would be fine for 3/4 lb or even probably 1/2 lb, if you wanted to have a large sauce-to-pasta ratio.  For the full pound, it ended up being more of a “mix-in” than a full-on sauce, but it did infuse the pasta very nicely with spiciness and general delicious flavor.  Topped with grated cheese, this is some pretty tasty pasta, if I do say so myself!

I would change a few things from what I did, so you’ll find my notes in parentheses in the ingredient list, and I’ll comment on differences as we go through the recipe.

almost like a taco, but with pasta!

Mexican Pasta
For the sauce:
14oz can tomatoes, diced or crushed
2 medium-large cloves garlic, minced
Juice from 1/2 lime (use a full lime if you have it)
3-4 chipotle chilies, minced
1 tbsp adobo sauce (I would increase this to 1 1/2 tbsp if you have the full lime)
1 tsp cumin (up to 2 tsp)
Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, to taste

For the pasta:
Olive oil
1 lb pasta (I used farfalle, or “bow-tie,” but you can use your favorite kind)
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 lb ground turkey
Grated cheese, for topping

I’d recommend prepping all your ingredients for both the sauce and the pasta itself before you get started, so you can just throw things in as you need them.  Also, once you’ve chopped everything, fill a suitably-sized pot with water and get it heating up.  Don’t forget to salt the water!

Now, let’s start off with the sauce.  Basically, just blend together all of the ingredients — and voilà!

the sauciest of sauces

A couple of notes about my suggested changes in the ingredient list: I used juice from 1/2 lime because that’s all I had, but if you have a full lime, I’d recommend using the whole thing.  I would have upped the spice level, but I didn’t want to overwhelm the lime flavors, so it turned out to be spicy, but with a little less of a kick than I’d hoped.  Also, if you increase the lime and the amount of adobo sauce, you can increase the amount of cumin, which is the spice that really helps give it the taco-y kind of flavors.

On a similar note, when you taste this sauce, it will be hot.  It will be quite hot, in fact.  But when it is added to the turkey and onion, and subsequently to the pasta, the flavors get toned down significantly, so make it a notch or two spicier than you actually want it to be so that it settles around the level you do want.

That wasn’t so hard, was it?  No, I didn’t think so.  On to the pasta!

So, you’ve got your pot of water.  When it boils, add the pasta.  While the pasta is cooking, add some olive oil (about 1 tbsp) to a relatively large skillet, and sauté the onion over medium-high heat for a few minutes, until it starts to get translucent.  You want to make sure that you cook the onion for long enough; since it’s a red onion, it’ll be a little harsher than a white onion or a sweet onion, so you want the flavors to start breaking down and mellowing out so it’s not too overpowering.

Once your onion is becoming translucent — doesn’t need to be totally translucent yet — add the ground turkey.  Sauté the turkey and onion, adding olive oil as necessary, until the turkey is totally cooked, i.e., none of it is pink anymore.

almost there... not very pretty yet, sadly

When your turkey is pretty much cooked, add the sauce.  I actually did not do this, because as you can see, my skillet is on the small/shallow side.  I am a ridiculously clumsy person, and it doesn’t take a psychic to foresee disaster and/or an entire kitchen covered in turkey and chipotle chili sauce, so I opted to add the sauce straight into the pasta instead.  However, if you add the sauce to the turkey and onion, cook it for a few minutes (lower the heat to medium-ish) and it’ll thicken up a bit, which will help it stick to the pasta better and act heartier and more sauce-like in general.

Drain your pasta when it is finished cooking, and return it to the pot.  When your sauce is thickened to your liking, add it, with the turkey and onion of course, to the pasta, and stir to get it evenly coated.

Serve topped with grated cheese (I tried it with cheddar and with Parmesan, and both tasted delicious), avocado, or any other favorite taco-style toppings!

bird's-eye view: simple, easy, delicious!


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