Mexican Toasted Noodles with Cilantro Crema
Made with a combination of jalapeño, poblano and red bell peppers and Mexican-inspired flavors like cumin, garlic, lime and cilantro, this easy, one-pan pasta dish features a unique method of preparation. Angel hair pasta is broken into short lengths, and toasted in oil, then simmered in a broth mixture until the liquid is absorbed. Topped with a dollop of crema (or sour cream) flavored with lime juice and chopped cilantro and garnished with a few slices of avocado, the dish makes a robustly flavored meatless dinner.
- 8 ounces angel hair pasta broken into 2-inch lengths
- 1/2 cup crema Mexicana or sour cream
- 4 to 5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, divided (about 2 limes)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
- 4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, divided
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 can (15.5-ounce) diced tomatoes
- 1 to 1-1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 1 cup red onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
- 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped
- 1 poblano pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
- 1/2 medium red bell pepper, cored and cut into thin strips
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 ripe Hass avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
- Combine the crema (or sour cream), 3 tablespoons of the lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon of the ground cumin and a pinch of salt and pepper in a small bowl. Stir in 2 to 3 tablespoons of the chopped cilantro and set aside.
- Drain the liquid from the tomatoes into a 2-cup measure and add enough chicken broth to equal 1-1/4 cups. Set both the tomatoes and the broth mixture aside.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the angel hair and sauté, tossing frequently, until lightly toasted, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Don't worry if a few noodles remain in the pan.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil to the pan, reduce the heat to medium and add the onion. Sauté until soft and translucent, 2 minutes, then add the garlic and continue cooking until fragrant, 1 minute more. Add the chopped jalapeño along with the remaining ground cumin and combine well.
- Add the poblano and red bell pepper, season to taste with salt and pepper, then add the diced tomatoes. Return the toasted angel hair to the pan and toss with the pepper mixture. Pour the broth over the mixture, cover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed and the pasta is cooked to your liking, 4 to 7 minutes. You can add a little more broth during cooking if needed.
- Remove from the heat, add the scallions and remaining lime juice. Combine thoroughly.
- To serve, plate a portion of pasta, top with a spoonful of the cilantro crema, a few slices of avocado and a sprinkling of the remaining chopped cilantro.
What is crema Mexicana?
Crema Mexicana is simply the Mexican version of sour cream. Similar to the French crème fraîche, it is less tangy and somewhat thinner than conventional sour cream, but for this recipe, the sour cream really makes a perfectly acceptable substitute.