Mild poblano peppers contribute to sauce for pasta supper
Except for some cherry tomatoes and a few zucchini, my garden was a bust this summer. I blame the deer who consider my backyard their personal cafeteria, and a fat groundhog who lives under my garden shed. But I did manage to harvest a handful of bright and shiny poblanos, a mild chile pepper with an earthy flavor.
Poblanos are most often used in Mexican and Tex-Mex cooking — they’re terrific stuffed — but because their heat is relatively mild, they also make a fine addition to chili and soup. They’re also wonderful roasted and blended into a cream sauce.
This recipe combines such a sauce with pappardelle, a flat, broad pasta, for an Italian-meets-Mexican fusion dish. If you want to boost the summer veggie quotient, add a cup of roasted corn kernels.
Creamy Roasted Poblano Pasta
- 5 small poblano peppers
- 2 medium chicken breasts (about 8 ounces), pounded thin
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin, or more to taste
- 8 ounces pappardelle pasta
- 1 large handful cilantro (about 1/2 cup packed)
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1 cup heavy cream, divided
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- Pinch or two crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup crumbled cotija or queso fresco, for garnish
- Minced cilantro, for garnish
Char poblano peppers on all sides over a gas flame until skin is blistered evenly all around. (If you don’t have a gas stove, char them under the broiler.) Once all of the peppers are roasted, place in resealable plastic bag and let them sit for 5 minutes. This helps loosen the skin to make them easier to peel.
When they’re cool to touch, rub skin off with the blade of a knife or a paper towel. Remove stem and seeds.
Season chicken breasts on both sides with salt, a little black pepper and 1 teaspoon ground cumin. Set aside.
While the peppers are sweating, bring large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Cook pasta until just shy of al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1/2 to 1 cup of the starchy pasta water. Set aside.
While pasta is cooking, add 3 peppers, cilantro, chicken stock and 1/2 cup heavy cream to a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Slice 2 remaining peppers into thin strips.
Heat a medium skillet to a medium heat. Add olive oil, and when it sizzles, add seasoned chicken. Cook 3-4 minutes per side, or until just cooked through.
Once pasta is drained, add poblano cream sauce to the pot, along with remaining heavy cream, minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and red pepper flakes. Taste and add more salt or cumin, if desired. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until slightly thickened, about 3-4 minutes.
Add cooked pasta and sliced peppers, and cook until pasta has absorbed sauce. Slice chicken into strips and add to pan. Stir to combine and give one final taste to see if you need more salt and/or pepper. Garnish with crumbled cotija and chopped cilantro, and serve.
— Gretchen McKay, Post-Gazette