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When You’re Out Of Tortillas, Make Fajitas With Pasta Instead

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 15, 1995

My friend Bernita raved about a quick dinner she made one night. She wanted to use some leftovers and realized she had all the fixings for fajitas except the tortillas. Fajita pasta was the answer.

I took her idea and created this dish with the flavors of the Southwest and the feel of Italy.

Similar ingredients are used in the marinade and pasta sauces. Just whisk them together in two separate bowls.

I warm the chicken marinade slightly. This helps the chicken absorb flavor faster and cuts marinating time.

Fajita Pasta

For the marinade:

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the pasta sauce:

1 tablespoon lime juice

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons defatted low-salt chicken stock

2 medium garlic cloves, crushed

3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

For the pasta:

2 tablespoons low-salt chicken stock

1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)

2 medium garlic cloves, crushed

1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)

1 medium yellow or red tomato, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 pound fresh or dried linguine

Place a large pot with 3 to 4 quarts of water on to boil.

Make the marinade and pasta sauce: Whisk the marinade ingredients together in a small microwave-safe bowl or saucepan.

Mix the pasta sauce ingredients together (except the chicken) in a second bowl and set aside. Warm the marinade on the stove or in a microwave oven.

Remove any fat from the chicken and slice into strips about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. Toss chicken strips in marinade, making sure the chicken is well coated. Let marinate 15 minutes.

Make the pasta: Heat the chicken stock in a non-stick skillet and add onion. Saute 5 minutes. Add the garlic, bell pepper and tomato and saute 5 more minutes.

Add chicken and marinade. Saute 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cook pasta in boiling water 3 minutes for fresh pasta or 9 minutes for dried. Drain and toss with sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon chicken and sauce over pasta. Sprinkle with cilantro.

Nutrition information per serving: 593 calories, 51 grams protein, 67 grams carbohydrate, 13 grams fat (20 percent of calories as fat) 4.3 grams fiber, 108 milligrams cholesterol, 216 milligrams sodium.

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