Sunday, November 1, 2015

Pasta with Poblano Chiles and Corn

I’m having some trouble with the seasonal part of my cooking life. It just doesn’t feel like November, partly because my current lifestyle is making days appear to go by too fast, partly because I live in southern Minnesota and there are 70-plus-degree days in the forecast.

Anyway, there will still be time for pumpkins and root vegetables. During the last trip I made to a little local market before it closed for the season, I scored a couple of poblano chile peppers. I pulled out a relatively recent recipe acquisition in which to feature them, a simple pasta dish with corn and a creamy cilantro sauce.

Of course this dish would probably be even better with fresh corn, but, since it’s no longer summertime, frozen corn stood in quite well. And the corn doesn’t just get tossed with the sautéed peppers and onions here. A portion of it also gets pureed with cream and cilantro to make a delicious sauce that keeps the dish a little lighter than it would be with just cream alone.

I find poblano chiles to be somewhat inconsistent when it comes to heat. Sometimes they are as spicy as a mild chile, sometimes they hardly have any fire at all, so this dish could be extra spicy one time it is served and much milder another. (My peppers were pretty mild.) I don’t mind this bit of mystery, but if you need something to be mild for sure, you could replace the poblanos with bell peppers. Actually, if you can’t get your hands on poblano peppers at all, you could use bell peppers and then, if you like it spicy, add chile peppers at the end of the onion-and-pepper cooking step. Really, it’s the cilantro-cream-corn sauce that makes this dish extra special. It’s something worth trying whatever you decide to cover with it.

Pasta with Poblano Chiles, Corn, and Cilantro Cream
Adapted from Vegetarian Times, September 2015

I sprinkled sharp cheddar cheese on my servings of this dish, but you could use whatever you like, such as Monterey Jack or queso fresco.

1 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems
10 ounces frozen corn (about 2 cups), thawed, divided
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 medium garlic clove
1¼ teaspoon salt, divided
1½ teaspoon cumin, divided
¾ teaspoon chili powder, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 poblano chiles, seeded and cut into ½ - inch strips
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
8 ounces short-cut pasta, such as penne (I used whole wheat)
Shredded cheese, such as cheddar or Monterey Jack

1. In a food processor, combine cilantro, ½ cup corn, cream, garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon cumin, and ¼ teaspoon chili powder. Process until smooth. Set aside.

2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chiles, onion, and remaining salt. Cook, stirring frequently until the onions and peppers are browned and soft, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in the remaining corn, remaining cumin and remaining chili powder.

3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until cooked the way you like it. Reserve about 1 cup pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet.

4. Pour the cilantro mixture over the pasta mixture and toss to coat. Add enough of the reserved pasta cooking water to make a creamy sauce. Cook and stir until heated through. Remove from the heat. Sprinkle cheese over each serving.

Makes about 4 servings.

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