Everyday Cooking

1 Can of Chiles in Adobo, 5 Dinners

April  8, 2013

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. 

Shop the Story

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.

More: Another condiment you'll want to put on everything, all week long? Gremolata.

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!).

Creamy Chipotle Enchiladas

Serves 1

7 ounces chipotle peppers in adobo
2 cups greek yogurt
3 corn tortillas
3 teaspoons chopped onion
1/2 to 1 ounce shredded monterey jack cheese
Safflower oil for frying
1 large egg
2 tablespoons chopped avocado
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

See the full recipe (and save it and print it) here.

Photos by Lara Ferroni

Make dinner all week with: 
One Tub of Yogurt
One Dozen Eggs
One Batch of Wheat Berries 

Listen Now

Join The Sandwich Universe co-hosts (and longtime BFFs) Molly Baz and Declan Bond as they dive deep into beloved, iconic sandwiches.

Listen Now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Amy Iannuzzo
    Amy Iannuzzo
  • Carley (@Beans)
    Carley (@Beans)
  • BeckiM
  • LeBec Fin
    LeBec Fin
  • ellemmbee
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.


Amy I. October 26, 2013
How many does that white bean chili serve?
Carley (. May 16, 2013
Also - used the extra crema for some awesomely fast and tasty saucy chicken tacos. Saute some onions and garlic, toss in a can of diced tomatoes and cook it down a bit. Remove from heat and stir in a bunch of the chipotle crema (a cup or two to taste), then stir in shredded rotisserie chicken. Stuff into tortillas, top with shredded cabbage if desired. DONE. Loved it!
Carley (. May 16, 2013
Yum! I made the pasta w/ kale recipe noted here - added a can of chickpeas and some garlic to round it out. Loved it! Nice change of pace for pasta. I will say - the chipotle crema was way too hot for us when prepared as written (one can of chipotles to two cups yogurt). I'm not usually overly sensitive to heat, but this just about burned the back of my throat on first taste. I recommend adjusting the ratio to go a bit heavier on the yogurt and lighter on the chipotle peppers, especially for the pasta dish where you want to use a decent amount of the crema to get the flavor. But still - a keeper!
BeckiM April 12, 2013
This is great! We have thrown out so many cans of chipotles in adobo (minus one). We tried the kale and chipotle pasta and loved it. And the leftover chipotle cream, well I think that will go on sandwiches and eggs thus weekend!
LeBec F. April 12, 2013
but elle. no need to go to all that trouble. freeze all in a little container; use a fork to scrape out, frozen, what you need. Also, on Chowhound discussions, some keep their puree in the frig and claim ir never goes bad.
ellemmbee April 12, 2013
And of course, you can always puree the chipotles, put Tablespoon sized blobs on a piece of waxed paper and freeze them. Once frozen, they plop into a freezer bag for the next time you need a little something, something!
currypaste April 10, 2013
Genius. Completely genius. I want to eat all of this immediately!
fayehess April 9, 2013
thank you le bec fin for that advice on the differences between brands! I have only ever been able to find the La Molina and found it so strong. I will definitely keep my eye open for the San Marcos. I love it in black beans with sauteed onion, garlic, crushed fennel and coriander, a few (seeded) sauteed cherry tomatoes and a bit of butter and fresh lime added at the end.
LeBec F. April 10, 2013
faye, it never occurred to me to put fennel and coriander in black beans; i wish you lived next door so i could taste that.
LeBec F. April 9, 2013
Brilliant piece; thk you!love your recipes as well.
I do have some thoughts/suggestions:
Canned chipotles vary so much; I don't know which you like, but here in Boston
I use the San Marcos brand in a red white and blue can, as they have had their seeds removed and their thick adobo sauce is an excellent one. The La Molina brand, in an orange can, is awful because it has seeds, and the sauce is not complex.

Also, I find that for my taste, just mixing chipotles with crema is rather one dimensional.
My recipe includes sour cream and/or mayo, minced garlic, OJ concentrate, pureed chipotles, Salt and a touch of lemon juice.
It is a go-to condiment for us;My Love puts it on all kinds of sandwiches!
Chipotle Sour Cream:
8 ou. Sour Cream
2-3T. Hellman’s Mayo – optional
1-3 T.pureed canned Chipotles in Adobo**
1-2T. Frozen OJ concentrate
2 tsp.Fresh Lemon Juice
1 tsp. minced garlic
Kosher Salt to taste

Mix together thoroughly , starting with the smaller
amounts of chipotle and O.J.
Adjust to taste.

** frozen pureed chipotles keep well. Scrape out amount w/ fork tines as needed.

I puree the whole can of chipotles en adobo and keep it frozen in a little plastic tub w/ a tight lid. Very easy to scrape out what you need later.

I also use this chipotle cream on my Cubano, with roast pork, ham, gruyere and pickles!
Lara April 9, 2013
Sounds like a delicious sauce!
ATG117 April 9, 2013
I'm not into heat and thus usually ignore chills, but this post re-peaked my curiosity. Just how hot would you say the ones inn adobo are?
RoastedBeet April 9, 2013
Chipotles aren't that spicy, in my opinion. They have a smoky flavor. But I think you can also adjust the heat of the spread by adding more yogurt (or, like Le Beq Fin, mayo, garlic, etc.)
Lara April 9, 2013
It will vary a little by brand... and the chiles straight from the can can be quite spicy... but they are definitely easy to temper with the yogurt... it is definitely easy and still delicious to add more yogurt if the spice is too much for you.
Lemongrass&Lime April 8, 2013
What a perfect solution to the left over chipotle in adobo dilemma. Fantastic collection of ideas for an ingredient I often have knocking around the fridge. Thanks Lara!
LLStone April 8, 2013
This looks great! I'm forever freezing the remains of a can of chiles in adobo, and I love the idea of making a sauce of them. I can't wait to use this sauce on all kinds of things.
AntoniaJames April 8, 2013
Lara, this is so clever. I've sent the recipe to my son in college who loves all things chile/hot peppers, and is cooking for himself (i.e., in need of ideas, always, for quick, healthy meals). And this looks like it can be made with an immersion blender. Even better. Brava!! ;o)
Lara April 8, 2013
Hi Antonia - yes, I actually used an immersion blender for mine... it's one of my favorite kitchen tools! Hope your son enjoys the recipes!

AntoniaJames April 8, 2013
I'm sure he will! This is his primary source for information on techniques, ingredients, recipes, etc., other than the odd text message to/from his mother or, when desperate, phone calls. This multi-meal format is just brilliant -- ever so helpful. I (and both my sons) hope you'll post more like this! Many thanks. ;o)
RoastedBeet April 8, 2013
Lara -- I LOVE this idea. I have a similar penchant for chipotles but also end up with much of the can wasted, even though any sauce I make with them always ends up eaten. This is such a great solution.
fiveandspice April 8, 2013
This is wonderful Lara! I love all of these ideas.