Anyone who grew up eating a respectable amount of fast food surely has some strong and firmly-held beliefs about what’s good and what’s crap. Personally, I won’t touch anything from Taco Bell or Burger King, but I can get completely down with Sonic cheddar bites and chili-cheese coneys, Dairy Queen peanut buster parfaits, and the simple, sublime, and perfect McDonald’s regular cheeseburger with fries — which once upon a time was known as a “Number 2 with a Coke,” a fast food order I shared in common with pop sensation Nick Lachey, according to one episode of The Newlyweds.
I’m getting off topic.
Another of my all-time favorites were Wendy’s chicken nuggets, but my enjoyment of those little treasures (99 cents for five nuggets back when I was in college!) plummeted when Wendy’s discontinued their amazing southwest chipotle dipping sauce. That stuff. Oh man. Loved that stuff. Did I eat the excess with my fingers? I can only imagine that I did. So, so good.
It had been…seven?…years since I had tasted that delicious chipotle sauce. UNTIL I MADE THIS PASTA. I would be pretty shocked to learn that Wendy’s put pine nuts and freshly grated parmesan cheese in their chipotle sauce in lieu of HFCS and “artificial flavorings,” but the second I tasted this delicious concoction, I was transported back to a drive-thru window in the heartland, and I couldn’t have been more excited about it.
In other words: Make. This. Pasta.
SPICY CHIPOTLE PESTO PASTA (slightly adapted from Damn Delicious)
1/2 pound short pasta (penne, farfalle, fusilli, cavatappi…)
6 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
1 cup frozen or fresh corn kernals (I don’t recommend using canned corn for this)
1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed, drained well, and patted dry
2 roma tomatoes, seeded to remove excess moisture and diced
1 avocado, diced
chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
1. Cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well and pat dry.
2. To make chipotle pesto, combine chipotle peppers (with seeds removed if you want to minimize spiciness), Parmesan, pine nuts, and garlic in bowl of food processor, season with salt and pepper, and process until uniform in consistency. Add olive oil and then Greek yogurt, pulsing between additions until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
3. Combine pasta, corn, black beans, and tomatoes in large bowl, patting dry with paper towels to remove as much excess moisture as possible. Add pesto; stir to combine.
4. Serve immediately with avocado and cilantro.
I still can’t get over how great this chipotle pesto was. My pesto actually lost some of its flavor when I combined it with the pasta; I think that was because I had excess water in the bowl. I noted above that you should remove as much extra moisture as possible before adding the pesto so it doesn’t lose any of its flavor. I can’t wait to eat this pesto with all kinds of stuff! I’m thinking quesadillas…