Whatever corner of the world you call home, chances are you can find pre-roasted chiles. An essential ingredient in many cuisines, chiles are full of flavor and not always eye-watering hot. The heat level depends on the chili, so check out this useful Scoville scale to calculate what you’ve got. Find roasted chiles at Farmers’ Markets, fall festivals or at your grocery store in the freezer section where they’re available year-round. Roasting removes the outer skin, leaving tender flesh but keeps flavor intact, adding a nice char. Think of chiles as a sassy spice. They don’t always play nice with your tongue, but add a lot of character to a dish. Then again, chiles don’t have to burn, but they do make a dish memorable.
Here, mild poblano chiles combine with peppery basil to create a pesto sauce. Toss with pasta and grilled chicken for a quick, flavorful meal.
Roasted Chile Pesto Pasta with Grilled Chicken Recipe
1 lb rigatoni pasta (or your favorite shape)
2 T white miso (located in the nondairy section near the tofu)
1 T fresh lime juice
1 T toasted sesame oil, plus extra for drizzling to finish
2 Farmers’ Market large roasted poblano chiles, coarsely chopped
Note: chiles are usually sold in larger quantities. Separate chiles into usable amounts and freeze in ziplock baggies for individual use.
1 large garlic clove, peeled
3 scallions, sliced, white and light green parts only
4 cups basil leaves, rinsed and dried
1 bunch cilantro, long stems removed, coarsely chopped
salt to taste
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, rinsed, patted dry
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and keep covered.
For Pesto Sauce:
Combine miso, lime juice and sesame oil in blender or food processor bowl.
Add chiles, garlic, scallions, basil leaves and cilantro to processor and blend, scraping sides of bowl with rubber spatula if necessary, until ingredients are smooth. Salt to taste.
For Grilled Chicken:
Lightly salt and pepper chicken. Rub oil over grill grates. Heat grill to medium for 15 minutes. Grill chicken at 350 to 400°F for 5 minutes, turn and grill 5 minutes, continuing to turn breast until juices run clear and temperature on Insta-read thermometer is 165°F. Remove from grill and let rest, covered, on clean plate. When cool enough to touch, dice chicken.
Toss pasta with pesto sauce. Divide pasta among 4 shallow bowls. Top with diced chicken and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Drizzle toasted sesame oil over pasta before serving.
Stephanie Davis, FTF’s go-to Wine Guru, and co-host of WineTwoFive, thought this imaginative combination of fresh roasted chiles and basil in a pesto would be a great partner for an Italian white wine blend of Friulano, Ribolla Galla and Malvasia. Why? It’s because, like this subtly spicy pasta sauce, the bottle is a mysterious seductress. The label doesn’t tell you anything, and that, says Stephanie, is precisely why you stay focused on the pleasure. Peach and apple notes in the wine are pallet refreshers while herbal notes tip their hat to the earthy and vegetal tones of the dish. Stephanie suggests stocking up on the wine, as it makes a great gift. Edi Keber Collio White. Priced at $30/bottle.
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Award-winning Chick Lit author Emily Kemme writes about the quirks of human nature. Find musings, recipes, and satire on her blog, Feeding the Famished. Novels | Drinking the Knock Water: A New Age Pilgrimage | In Search of Sushi Tora | Other works in progress