A restaurant-inspired southwestern chicken pasta with grilled chicken tossed in a creamy chipotle sauce.
Am I the only person who goes to a restaurant, orders dinner, and then announces to the table that I can totally make what I ordered at home? Am I also the only person who, at least nine times out of ten, never actually follows-up on that promise because… well, because life is busy and I can’t possibly follow through on everything I say?
Anyway, what I’m getting at is that I get really inspired by menus and restaurant dishes, but I rarely try to recreate the dishes at home mostly because I have challenges in the organization department and tend to write notes on sticky pads that inevitably collect on my desk and in my purse only to be thrown away because I can’t figure out what I actually took note of – what was that? Something about pasta or pumpkin or potatoes?
So now I am using a note taking system and trying very hard to stay organized so I can hang on to and try out some of the many tasty inspirations I stumble across online and in real life.
And today I’m sharing one… Success!
This southwestern chicken pasta is inspired by a dish I’ve had several times at a restaurant called Top of the Hill here in Chapel Hill and it’s been sitting on my “gotta make this at home” list for about two years. It’s full of pasta, grilled chicken, fresh cherry tomatoes, sweet corn – all kinds of summery stuff. The best part is the light chipotle cream sauce that all that good stuff gets tossed in, but before I get to that let’s talk about the pasta…
I used a new-to-me shape for this dish – the pasta that looks like little radiators – called radiatori, which means -surprise!- radiators. It’s the perfect pasta because the creamy chipotle sauce gets all inside the little crevices, which is what you want for maximum sauce enjoyment – unlike relationships you want your pasta and sauce to be all co-dependent. It’s important! It’s also the perfect size to go along with everything else so each bite has a bit of everything – cherry tomato, corn, grilled chicken, and pasta all coated in the creamy, spicy sauce.
I’m someone who can eat creamy chicken pasta dishes 365 days a year, but if you’re not don’t worry — the sauce is very light and adds just a touch of richness. It’s not a heavy, weigh you down wintry kind of pasta. Nope – it’s full of fresh flavor (tomatoes! corn! cilantro!) with just a hint of heat from the chipotle sauce, although I have a confession: I only used the sauce that the chipotles are in and didn’t actually chop up one of the chipotles and toss it in – I am a spicy food wimp and only like a smidge of heat. So, technically, my sauce should be called adobo sauce, but whatever. Do you like a lot of heat? If so, be sure to add one of the peppers.
So that’s it – a southwestern chicken pasta inspired by one our neighborhood restaurants. I hope you give it a try!Print
Grilled chicken, corn, cherry tomatoes, and pasta all tossed together in a smoky chipotle cream sauce.
- 8 ounces pasta, preferably a short pasta like penne or radiatori like I used
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, seasoned on both sides with salt and pepper
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup diced onion
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 cup corn
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
- 1 chipotle chili, finely chopped (optional!)
- 4 ounces white cheddar cheese
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
- Salt & pepper
- Cook the pasta according to package direction. Reserve at least a 1/4 cup of the starchy pasta water before draining the pasta.
- While the pasta is boiling, heat a grill pan over medium high heat (or an outside grill to 400 degrees). Grill the chicken on both sides until cooked through (internal temperature should be 165 degrees). Remove the chicken from the grill and let it rest. Once it’s rested a couple minutes cut it into bite sized pieces and set it aside
- In a large sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat and then add the chopped onion, garlic and corn. Cook until the onion starts to soften, about 3 minutes or so. Add the chicken stock and simmer for another 2-3 minutes before adding the cream and a couple tablespoons of the starchy pasta water. Add the adobo sauce (and chopped up pepper, if you’re using it) and stir everything together. Bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce the heat and let it thicken for a few minutes until it lightly coats the back of a spoon. Turn off the heat and add some salt and pepper (about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper). Add the cheddar cheese and stir until it’s melted and the sauce is smooth.
- Add the chicken, tomatoes, cilantro and cooked pasta to the pan and toss it all together in the sauce.
I used frozen corn for this recipe, but you can easily subsitute fresh. If you use fresh, I recommend first melting the butter in the pan and then adding the corn kernals. They will need to cook at least 5-7 minutes. Once they’ve cooked for about half that time go ahead and toss in the onion and garlic and let it all cook together.[br][br]You can find chipotle chilis in adobe sauce in most grocery stores in the international foods aisle.
- Category: Main Course