Chipotle peppers in adobo (Recipe: vegetarian Cuban canapes)
So, there I was, early this morning, driving along Bald Hill Road in Warwick, Rhode Island, which although called Route 2 is second to none in the trashiest-mall-lined-highway competition.
I was searching for a Dunkin' Donuts drive-through, so I wouldn't have to give up caffeine while I gave up an hour of my life waiting for the car to get its oil changed. At the intersection where I thought I'd find my iced coffee fix, however, I found something totally unexpected: a brand new Chipotle Mexican Grill.
First thought -- who moved my coffee???
Second thought -- will people around here know how to pronounce the name of that restaurant? No problem in California, where this chain of healthy-fast-food (although owned by McDonald's) restaurants began. But here in the Northeast, if I had a nickel for every time I've heard someone ask for chih-POLE-tees, I'd be able to afford a lifetime supply of chipotle peppers in adobo. Hmmm, maybe they should call the restaurant Adobo Mexican Grill.
Chipotles (chi-POTE-lays) originated in the area of Mexico north of what is now Mexico City. Also called chile ahumado, a chipotle is a smoked jalapeño pepper. It's believed that the Aztecs smoked jalapeños to preserve them, because the peppers' thick skin inhibited the natural drying process.
Adobo, a sauce made of vinegar, tomatoes and garlic, further preserves the chipotles. The smoky, husky, tangy flavor of chipotles in adobo, or the adobo sauce on its own, make a fine enhancement for chili and stew. And the adobo is also a great kick-me-up for mayonnaise or marinade.
Vegetarian Cuban canapes
This fabulous appetizer, from Boston chef Julia Shanks, is a perennial favorite in my cooking classes. It's easy and unusual. Serves 8.
1 cup mayonnaise
2 chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped, + 1 tsp adobo sauce
2 red onions, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tsp canola oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 summer squash or zucchini, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 dill pickles, diced
1/2 lb Emmenthal cheese (or gruyere or Swiss), sliced
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine mayo, chipotles, half of red onion, and cilantro. Set aside. Heat a large frying pan over high heat. Add oil, with the remaining onion and garlic. Cook 2 minutes. Add carrots and squash, cook 2-5 minutes, or until carrots are tender. You may need to add a bit more oil or water to keep vegetables from scorching. Meanwhile, slice bread and toast in oven. When veggies are cooked, remove from heat and stir in the pickles. To assemble: spread a spoonful of the mayo on each piece of toast. Top with veggie mixture, cover each piece of bread with a slice of cheese, and place on a sheet pan. Bake until cheese melts, about 4 minutes.