Rotelli with a Smoky Twist

Number of servings depends on amount of pasta

The Aztecs, who invented chipotles, would probably never have imagined that they would make a fabulous sauce for Italian pasta. On a wintry Sunday evening in February, when we hadn't found much at San Francisco's Saturday Farmers' Market, we turned our attention to some chipotles as the focal point for building a tasty Sunday supper. These chipotles came from Tierra Vegetables, a year-round vendor of dried and smoked chiles. We were surprised to find that the spicy and nutty smokiness of these peppers seemed to have a natural affinity for pasta and that the chipotles added a spunky variation to a traditional tomato-based pasta sauce.

Chipotle is an Aztec word meaning a smoke-cured chile. Many varieties of chiles are used to make chipotles, so you'll find that they can vary in spiciness quite a bit. But whatever variety of chile the producer uses to make the chipotle, the main characteristic is its smoky flavor. You can vary the spiciness of this dish by choosing a chile variety that suits your hotness level, while still enjoying its smokiness. Tierra Vegetables offers many varieties of chipotles, ranging from mild to fire-alarm hot.

A simple medley of stir-fried vegetables mixed in with the pasta provides an perfect counterbalance to this strong tasting sauce and brings the dish together. Don't omit them!


2 - 3 chipotles
1 6 oz. can good quality Italian tomato paste
1/2 - 1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano (optional)
2-3 cloves garlic
3-4 TBS olive oil

Vegetable Medley: