Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pasta with Crunchy Roasted Black Beans

(Printable Recipe)

Straight from the Pantry: Dinner in 30 minutes. That's right, even if your fridge went out and you hadn't a single fresh veg or meat protein on hand, you could put together this dish entirely from the pantry without resorting to a creamed soup casserole. As I undertook the challenge to do a clean-out-the-pantry dish, I also decided to clean out the spice/herb pantry by making a special seasoning I love, though it turns out a little different each time, and in the end I made a second pasta dish with it. So, today you're getting not one, but TWO bonus recipes, you lucky foodies! And a peak inside my obsessively packed fold-out pantry cabinet that is the secret joy of my kitchen. Get ready. Here it is:
Closed and Tidy
But...Open Sesame:
Whoa! Could you get a little more stuff in there?
Why yes I could:
That's right, one more layer hiding out in the back.
Because all the shelves are movable I use almost every square inch of this thing.
So, here's where we're going to start. Traveling to the northeast region of my pantry, home of vegetables, beans, fruits, soups, sauces, canned tuna and chicken, we'll collect our stash.

We'll get to the other pantry regions shortly, but for the moment let's get some pasta cooking. Doesn't matter too much what kind you choose, just grab that box you've had sitting around for pasta salad or bought because the shapes were fun. I bought this one because I couldn't resist the name "piccolini." 
Everything you'll need.
Start the pasta water and set the oven to 400 for the beans. Drain the black beans (or experiment with others such as red or garbanzo, if that's what you've got). Rinse and drain well, spread on a towel, and pat dry before moving to a bowl. Toss them with a tablespoon of olive oil and pinch or two of salt. Spread them on a parchment lined sheet pan and slip them in the oven; timer set for 20 minutes. The result will be a crunchy, salty snack that also makes an unexpected topping sprinkled over pasta or tacos or salad or you-name-it. I love beans but limit them since they're so carb-loaded.  I find that even a few of these as a garnish are enough to satisfy.
I collect flavored oils and used this flaming hot Harissa Oil for my Black Beans. ChaChaCha.

While those are roasting, toss in the pasta to boil with a chicken bouillon cube added for flavor, and pop open the cans of chipotle-in-adobo and the artichoke hearts. Quarter those hearts if they aren't already. And if yours are packed in oil instead of water, rinse them really well in hot water. Regardless of how they're packed, squeeze out as much water as you can before tossing them in a medium hot skillet drizzled with olive oil. Salt and pepper them and toss for just 5 minutes or so to sizzle and brown a bit. 
Halt! Achtung! If you want to control the heat, the next step is important! Before you rough chop 3 or 4 chipotles, slice them open and scrape away the seeds and lingering adobo sauce. If you love the heat, ignore this warning and chop away, seeds and all, as you'll notice I did but a few people at the table cried a little.
Toss in the peppers and about of tablespoon of concentrated tomato paste. If you don't keep this stuff on hand, it's time to pick up a tube. It's sweeter than canned, lasts for ages, and is so concentrated that just a little adds a lot of flavor. (Throw it in the fridge after opening.) Next, drain a can of white chicken chunks and toss those in if you so desire. This Kirkland brand from Costco is excellent, tender, flaky good. With chicken this could serve as a main dish, without it's a perfect side dish.
Mix and stir to heat through.
By now your pasta should be ready. Ladle about a half cup of pasta water into the above mix and stir to blend. Lastly, add a few cups of drained pasta and toss. Another cup or so of pasta may be needed, but judge the balance of ingredients first to be sure you really need it. About now that bean timer should be buzzing and the pan should look like a bean bomb has detonated.
Not a mistake.
I think these crunch up even more as they cool. Spinkle a few on top of each serving of Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pasta and save the rest for snacking or pass the bowl around the table and let everyone add their own.

Now to that bonus I promised! Whether or not you're a spice/herb hoarder like me, you'll love this method of making a fantastic custom blend out of aging herbs before they're too old to use. (If they've lost their scent, trash them, flavor's gone too.) I regularly work my way through the collective bottles in the southwest region of my pantry (door) and scoop out a tsp or so of each. If a bottle has only a few teaspoons left, I go ahead and use it all except for really strong cumin or curry.
This is about half the total stash. And it's layered two deep. yes, i heart herbs.
On this particular sunny day, here is what I ended up using for my special blend:
(Printable Custom Spice Blend Recipe)
Did I mention I'm a salt hoarder too? Ugh, it's the truth. I love different flavored salt for sprinkling on fish or meat to finish them or to add to a delicate sauce. Or just lick.
A few of the dozen or so salts in my kitchen. 
Back to the herb blend! I haven't forgotten. We're going to turn that mishmash into a fine powder in the spice grinder aka coffee-grinder-reserved-only-for-spices. I am having a heyday with hyphens this afternoon.
Herb and Spice Blend before grinding. Smells delicious.
Herb and Spice Blend after grinding. Smells FABULICOUS!
I save empty spice bottles for just such an occasion and slap on my homemade label.

And now for our final dish. I used the extra pasta not needed for the first dish to make a wonderful side dish for another day. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil to shimmering and spoon in a few tablespoons of this herb blend, stirring just a minute or so to warm. When the scent has really intensified as the flavors open up with the heat, add 2-3 cups of pasta and toss well to coat. 
2-3 Tbs Olive Oil + 2-3 Tbs Herb Blend
Keep stirring a few minutes until fragrance intensifies then add pasta.
Voila! CustomBlend Herby Pasta.

This week is the beginning of Sensational Spring Sides at the Food Network blog, the FN Dish. Here are lots of delicious ideas from my fellow bloggers around the country!

Feed Me Phoebe: Artichoke Hummus
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Spaghetti and Meatballs
Red or Green: Sea Bass with Spicy Asian Ginger Sauce
Jeanette's Healthy Living: Quinoa Citrus Mango Avocado Black Bean Salad
The Heritage Cook: Chile Tortilla Soup
Cooking With Elise: Glorious Greek Salad Dressing
Devour: Clean Out the Pantry Night
Weelicious: Greek Nachos
Virtually Homemade: Garlic Rosemary Pizza Crust Bites
Domesticate Me: Fiesta Baked Eggs with Farro and Black Beans
Taste With The Eyes: Mom's Vintage Potato Salad
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Rice and Beans Casserole
The Sensitive Epicure: Salmon and Brown Rice Casserole (Gluten-Free)
FN Dish: Pantry Clean-Out Sides

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