Spicy Summer

Summer vacation's begun in our nest and that means days are filled with gardening, trips to the park and beach, and sidewalk art. It also means that sometimes there's not quite as much time for culinary adventures mid-week as I might want. However, that doesn't stop me from making sure there's wonderful food to be enjoyed. In fact, sometimes the time crunch really inspires something special. This time around, it led to a pasta dish that takes about a half hour to assemble and is great for summer entertaining, provided your guest like it hot:

If you are looking for a little less heat, simply reduce the number of chipotle peppers you use in this dish. That said, I found the heat and dairy really paired incredibly well together. I opted to use two different kinds of onions in the dish for some flavor and texture differences. You could use almost any vegetables in the dish, but I do recommend keeping the number and variety low as to allow the sauce itself to star in the dish. The smoky grilled chicken only highlights the sauce, although pork or even smoked sausage would also pair nicely with it. I liked the simple egg noodles that I chose for it, but penne or another short pasta shape would also work well in this dish.

You can opt to just have this dish on its own, but it will also do nicely with garlic bread or Texas toast, a simple green salad, and a glass of wine. Normally, I'd say stick with a white wine when you are serving a cream sauced pasta, but the heat and grilled meat in this dish will help it stand up to a light red, too. So knock yourself out and host a mid-week party without actually knocking yourself out! You can even make dessert a snap by serving a simple fruit sorbet. After the rich and spicy sauce, something light and fruity will be perfect. Enjoy and here's to enjoying a nice, spicy summer!

Grilled Chicken Pasta with Chipotle Cream Sauce

For the pasta:
  • 16 ounces dry egg noodles
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and pounded to 1.2″ thickness
For the sauce:
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, cleaned and coarsely chopped
  • 3 ramps or green onions, sliced
  • 6 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon of the chipotle adobo sauce
  • 2 cups half and half

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente’, according to the instructions. Drain and set aside.

Heat a grill pan, panini press or grill and cook the chicken until opaque, about 3-4 minutes per side. Slice the chicken into 2″ long slices and set aside.

Heat the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and ramps or green onions and sauté until translucent. Add the chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, and half and half. Let the sauce simmer over medium heat, stirring every minute or two until it thickens.

When the cream sauce has thickened, add the chicken and pasta and stir well to coat the pasta. Remove from the heat and salt to taste and serve.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes