Chipotle Pesto Pasta

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Submitted by: Fistgrrl Uploaded by: Djarum

Most of my best recipes have been gleened from other people and in this case, stolen by my friend who worked at Jane's restaurant here in Chicago. Their dish has chicken in it, which I enjoy, but I make it vegetarian and it's still delicious.

Here is the copy of the original STOLEN recipe! She's been fired from there for years so don't even think about trying to get us busted! Pasta1.jpg

I make this as a 1/2 recipe and it feeds four. Also, you'll have about half the pesto leftover which can be frozen in airtight container for a later second batch.

Here's the ingredients:


Put on a huge pot of salted water to boil for 1 pound of Angel Hair (capellini)


  • 1/2 7oz can of chipotle in Adobo (smoked jalepenos, a little goes a long way)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • 2 cups of basil and cilantro
  • 3/4 cup of pine nuts
  • 1 Tablespoon of salt (I use Kosher)
  • 1/2 jar of sliced sundried tomatoes (found in produce section usually)

Start by pulvarizing the pinenuts, basil and cilantro in a large food processor: Pasta3.jpg

It should look similar to ordinary pesto:


Add the chipotle peppers (with sauce), sundried tomatoes, oil, parm, and salt:


Again, pulvarize and you'll get this:


Okay, pesto is complete.

Now comes the Cotija. Cotija cheese is available in Mexican grocery stores and Whole Foods type places. It can be a bitch to find, so make sure you can get it before attempting this recipe. I usually buy the round version, but bought this square block at Danny's Mercado after trying too many damned stores (Dominick's on Kimball, Fresh Market in Northbrook).


Break up the cheese into chunks with your hands so it fits in a small food processor: Pasta8.jpg

Process around half the block and about 15 seconds until it looks like this: Pasta9.jpg

Wrap up the other half to use some other time.

Meanwhile you need to dice some tomatoes and chop some extra cilantro. I recommend John Boos cutting boards. Made here in Illinois and I learned of them in this forum: Pasta10.jpg Pasta11.jpg

In a large skillet, pour about 1/4 cup of water and around three large spoonfuls of pesto (around half of what you have). Pasta12.jpg

With the heat on low, add a full bag of fresh baby spinach:


Also sprinkle about a handful of the cotija in the pan. Cover and allow the spinach to steam: Pasta14.jpg

Cook your pasta for 3 minutes so it's al dente.


Stir in the skillet mixture:


On plate, top pasta with AMPLE diced tomatoes, cilantro and cotija cheese. Enjoy! Pasta17.jpg

Serve with crusty bread and a nice Spring Mix salad. As I said this dish is usually made with chicken. If you want to make it that way you can be lazy and buy the Tyson pre-cooked white meat strips in the meat department or start by sauteing small chicken medallions prior to steaming the spinach. Make sure it gets a good pesto coat.