Put time into dinner now, and you can make it last forever -- or at least the whole week. Welcome to Halfway to Dinner, where we show you how to stretch your staples every which way.
Today: Lara Ferroni makes a smoky, spicy condiment that will bring life to every dinner this week.
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I love chipotle peppers, but since a single pepper is usually plenty to spice up most dishes, I always end up with the remains of almost-full, opened cans sitting in my refrigerator. Instead of letting all the heavenly adobo and chiles go to waste, why not craft a whole week's worth of meals around them? Start by blending the entire can of chipotles and adobo with two cups of plain greek yogurt or sour cream and a touch of water to thin if needed. You’ll have a chipotle cream that is hard to resist slathering on everything.
Creamy Chipotle Enchiladas I have a bit of a bias toward flat enchiladas rather than the rolled kind. (I think it’s my New Mexico heritage showing through.) Fry tortillas in just a little oil until they are crisp around the edges, and then layer with warmed chipotle cream, chopped onion, and monterey jack cheese -- I usually use 3 tortillas per stack. (Add a layer of shredded, cooked chicken for a heartier meal.) Pop the stack in a warm oven for about 5 minutes to melt the cheese, and the top with a sunny side up egg, a bit more chipotle cream, fresh cilantro, and some diced avocado.
Chipotle Chicken Sandwich Roasting a chicken at home is great on its own, but to spice it up, I toss leftover meat with chipotle cream, then I pile it high on a crusty baguette with a bit of cilantro, chopped avocado, and tomatoes (but only if they're in season!). A dinner you’ll be happy to eat.
Spinach Salad with Chipotle Dressing It doesn’t get much simpler -- or delicious -- than this: a bunch of baby spinach leaves, diced avocado, a chopped hard-boiled egg, some toasted cashews, all cloaked in a smoky chipotle dressing. To make the dressing, just mix the chipotle cream with a bit of olive oil to get a creamy but pourable consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
White Bean and Chipotle Chili Soften a chopped onion and a clove or two of chopped garlic to a large saucepan over medium heat, then add about a pound of chopped, uncooked chicken breasts, a tablespoon of dried oregano, a teaspoon of ground cumin, and a couple cans of white beans, such as cannellini. Toss in a chopped jalapeño if you’d like. Pour a quart of stock over the top and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Stir in a few tablespoons of the chipotle cream just before you eat, and serve with tortillas on the side. This chili keeps really well, and will be even better the second night. It’s also a great soup for the slow-cooker: just throw all your ingredients (except the chipotle cream) in the pot in the morning and have an amazing bowl of chili ready when you get home from work.
Kale & Chipotle Pasta This is comfort food at its finest, and it's lightning-fast. Ready? Cook up a big pot of pasta, stir-fry some kale in olive oil, throw in a few sliced almonds, the pasta plus a bit of the cooking water if necessary, and a healthy dollop of chipotle cream.
Chocolate Chipotle Ice Cream or Sorbet For dessert (or dinner, if it's that kind of day), spice up your ice cream. Chipotle may sound like a crazy addition here, but the subtle smoke it adds makes for a real winner of a dessert. Just blend about 2 tablespoons of the chipotle sauce into your favorite chocolate ice cream or sorbet recipe (try this amazing one from David Lebovitz!).
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).
Lara Ferroni is a former tech geek turned food geek who spends her days exploring the food culture of the Pacific Northwest. As a writer and photographer, you might spy her digging through bargain bins for the perfect prop, or dreaming up delicious new ways to use teff, or eating and drinking her way through Portland's vibrant food culture. Her photos have been featured in websites and magazines such as Epicurious and Edible Communities, as well as over 10 cookbooks, including her own, Doughnuts (Sasquatch Books) and Real Snacks: Your Favorite Childhood Treats Without all the Junk (Sasquatch Books), as well as a food photography how-to book, Food Photography: Pro Secrets for Styling, Lighting & Shooting (Pixiq). You can find more of her tasty photos and recipes on her blogs, CookandEat.com and StillLifeWith.com.