Southwestern Pasta Sauce

Back in my Potter days, I spent a lot of time in New Mexico. For a Ceramic artist it is a great place of inspiration. Not only could the landscape be breathtaking but I loved visiting the Galleries and meeting the artists in Santa Fe. Most of all I loved New Mexican food. There are so many great places to eat in New Mexico.

After flying into the airport at Albuquerque, I would head to Old Town for some touristy shopping and a grilled cheese and green chile sandwich. I loved it. In Santa Fe, I would sometimes go to Maria’s (http://www.marias-santafe.com/restaur.html ) for authentic Northern New Mexican cooking. I don’t know if they still do it, but they made their own fresh tortillas which were wonderful.

When I wanted to venture out, I would drive up to Chimayo visit the famous Church then head to Rancho de Chimayo (http://www.ranchodechimayo.com/history/history.htm) for a leisurely lunch and the best Chimayo Margarita ever. They have several Vegetarian plates which are tasty, but my companions have enjoyed many other dishes including the Green Chile Stew. The Margarita is unique made with Gold Tequila, Crème de Cassis and Apple Cider. I included the recipe in an earlier post.

One of the restaurants in Santa Fe that is known for its lunches and dinners is actually my favorite Breakfast spot, Pasquales (http://www.pasquals.com/about.html ). Their Huevos Motoulenos are the best; Eggs on a Corn Tortilla with Black Beans, Sautéed bananas, Feta Cheese (only a little) Peas and Salsa. Sounds weird but it is wonderful. I have their cookbook and have made this for brunch and people enjoyed it. Not only was the food great at Pasquales, but the artistic New Mexican atmosphere made for a great start to my day. They also had some great chocolate cookies at check out which people bought for breakfast.

I wouldn’t say the recipe I am about to share is “authentic” Santa Fe, but with all the diversity in cooking in the area, I think it is still safe to term it Santa Fe Pasta Sauce. In any case, it reminds me of my artistic days in Santa Fe and it tastes great too.

Actually this is a recipe from Cooking Light. It makes enough for eight so invite your friends over or half the recipe if that is too much. The recipe calls for Sour Cream, but if you don’t like it, I don’t see why you couldn’t leave it out. It does add to the creaminess of the dish. The same goes with the Black Olives, if you don’t like them, don’t use them.

You are welcome to use low sodium ingredients if you want less salt in your diet. I would suggest you stick with the Fettuccini noodles, they hold the sauce well. You could use a multigrain or whole wheat fettuccini if you want to add some fiber (and Lord knows we need our fiber!) Obviously, I don’t eat the chicken, but if you are a carnivore, go at it!

Be sure to eat this with a tasty Chimayo Margarita. It will make you happy and frisky!

Santa Fe Pasta Sauce

1 TBL Olive Oil
½ cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves minced
1 (16oz) jar salsa (your favorite. I prefer mine smoky)
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn
¾ cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup chopped ripe olives
½ cup low-fat sour cream (not nonfat)
½ tsp Creole Seasoning
4 (4oz) skinned, boned chicken breast halves
Cooking spray
4 cups hot cooked fettuccine (about 8oz uncooked pasta)
Slices pickled jalapenos (optional unless you are a Texan in which case you will use fresh and it won’t be an option)

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and sauté 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low. Stir in salsa and tomato sauce; cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add corn, beans, olives, sour cream, and Creole Seasoning; cook 4 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Keep warm.

Prepare grill or broiler. Place chicken on a grill rack or broiler pan coated with cooking spray(coat the grill before heating it unless you want a visit from your local fire department); cook 5 minutes on each side or until done. Slice chicken lengthwise into ½ inch wide strips.

Spoon the sauce over the pasta. Top with grilled chicken strips, and garnish with the peppers if desired or if you are Texan.

Yield 8 servings (serving size: ½ cup sauce, ½ cup pasta and about 4 strips of grilled chicken)
Calories 302(21%from fat) Fat 7.2g (2.1 g saturated) Protein 24.5g; Cholesterol 54mg; Calcium 73mg; Sodium 592 mg; Fiber 3.8g; Iron 2.8mg; Carbohydrate 34.6g.