The Spice Is Nice

I don't often have hot wings. That's not because I don't like them or even crave them. It's because I find them really pretty messy to make and just as messy to eat. If I'm going to eat out somewhere, there's not really much of a desire to end up going through an elaborate process to end up relatively clean by the end of the meal. It's the same reason that, while I love both crab and lobster, I rarely have them, either.

However, I really like the flavors that go into making the hot wing experience. So what I do instead is take those flavors and incorporate them into a creamy, spicy sauce and make this tried and true favorite into a great pasta dish that can be easily enjoyed with fork in hand and requires little more than a dab or two with a napkin when finished. What's more, it is a dish that comes together much more easily than traditional wings and the leftovers reheat beautifully -- not that leftover wings are something many people ever have to consider! And hey, with a healthy dose of buffalo sauce in the sauce, it also makes for a pretty dish:

Now, I call for chèvre in this dish because it's what I had on hand and I think it melts more easily than blue cheese. That said, you could definitely use crumbled blue cheese in place of the goat cheese with no ill effect. And it would, frankly, be more traditional this way. That said, I really liked the texture and flavor achieved with the chèvre. You could also include more vegetables in the dish than I did, but I didn't want to end up making it a primavera dish with little resemblance to the bar food the dish gets its inspiration and name from. If you want extra veggies, consider adding a salad on the side or even carrot and celery sticks for another nod to the traditional.

I happened to have some spicy buffalo-spiced cheddar cheese on hand. It's not remotely required for this dish. A pepper jack or even sharp cheddar would work well and you can tweak those choices based on the spice tolerance of those sitting at the table. For me? I could have added a pile of tabasco sauce to this dish and not phased my dear husband, with his love of all the heat. Then again, I might not have been able to enjoy it at that point. The recipe below is how I opted to put things together and does not include any additional heat added at the table by said husband. Enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken Pasta

  • 16 oz. pasta - choose a variety that appeals to you
  • 1 T. chili oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs - chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 medium-sized onion - sliced into thin wedges
  • 2 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1/3 c. buffalo sauce
  • 4 oz. chèvre (goat cheese) - crumbled
  • 4 oz. low fat cream cheese - crumbled
  • 2 oz. buffalo cheddar cheese - grated
  • 2-3 green onions - thinly sliced

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

Prepare the pasta according to the package directions, draining lightly when done.

Meanwhile, heat the chili oil in a large nonstick skillet and brown the chicken over medium-high heat. Add the onions and granulated garlic and cook until the onions are translucent and soft. Add the buffalo sauce, chèvre, and low fat cream cheese and stir until the cheeses are entirely incorporated into the sauce.

Toss the pasta and sauce together and stir to coat. Pour into the prepared baking pan and sprinkle evenly with the shredded cheese. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Sprinkle the green onions over the top immediately before serving.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30-40 minutes