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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.

Oh. I know chipotle is misspelled on the can in my pantry, and yes, the señora looks like Frida Kahlo, or Salma Hayek. Maybe that's why I love these peppers.

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.


2 baguettes
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.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Spicy Sunday skirt steak
Bean dip with Maple Chipotle Grille Sauce 
Mushrooms and peppers in puff pastry
Mole Colorado

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I´d buy that can even if it was empty. great graphics!

Hi Lydia,
I like chi-POTE-lays in my mayonnaise :-) I haven't found the real stuff here though. I'm sure it's available somewhere if I look hard enough.

So, did you get your coffee? I mean, all this sounds excellent, but, after morning coffee...

What a tasty, hot find!

Paz ;-)

Yo, your naybor-down-the-road can pronounce it. But she can't find them here'bouts. Where'd you get them? I know the Stop and Shop in No. Providence stocks 'em, but that's a hike.
Your recipe sounds divine, thanks...I looooove chipotle..in adobo, ground,...any way I can get them.

Gee Lydia, you were in the "hood" and didn't stop in! Actually, I've been thinking of trying that new spot...and, I probably go to the same place for an oil change (accross the street). In any event, I've not tried the chipoltles as of yet, but it sounds good with the mayo...everything is good with mayo!

Ah, the spelling is so funny! May it ever be thus!! I've learned to be ultra cautious about using both the peppers and especially the sauce - it's got a BIG kick, one that can leave 'bruises' on some palates.

I love using chipotle peppers in tomatco sauce with meatballs. spicy, smoky and delicious.


These definitely have a heck of a kick -- I agree with Alanna! Here's my question...I always just need one or two for a recipe, so what do people normally do with the rest of what's in the can? How long does it keep in the fridge? Or do you freeze them?

Lobster, I'm sure the graphics drew me in -- there are other brands on the shelf, but none with such a lovely senora.

Nora, I'm always happy to ship a can to a friend in need!

Katie, I like a woman who keeps her eye on the ball. Coffee -- yes! The place had moved a bit farther up the road. One thing about Rhode Island -- there's a Dunkin Donuts on almost every corner.

Paz, olé to that!

Marcia, Dave's Market in Greenville.

Pam, chipotle mayo is great, especially on turkey sandwiches. It's got a real kick to it.

Alanna, you're right, it's not for the faint of heart (or palate), but for those of us who crave spicy food, it's addictive.

B, me too!

Genie, excellent question. You can freeze them; I take them out of the can (always do that with leftover canned food, especially acidic stuff), and transfer the peppers with all of the adobo sauce to a plastic container. The vinegar is a preservative, so the peppers will keep in the fridge for months.

I'd love to try that & it seems a perfect appetiser!

Actually, it's not misspelled. From Wikipedia: "The Nahuatl word chilpoctli
means "smoked chile", formed from chil (="chile pepper") + poctli (="smoke"). The original Nahuatl word was spelled "pochilli" and has apparently become reversed. Today it is commonly misspelled and mispronounced as chipolte, an error of metathesis"

I adore chipotles (or chilpotles), especially the adobo. I've been known to just dip a spoon in the can and take a smoky, fiery bite (chased with some sour cream). Mmmmm!

Great recipe, sounds really tasty.

There's a Chipotle just beside my block!
Hmmm...i thinking of a chili stew when I see this.

Valentina, the list of ingredients sounds weird, but believe me, it's delicious.

Lisa, thank you -- I love learning from my readers. And only a Texan would eat chipotles right from the can!

Kelly, it is so good.

Tigerfish, smoky chili made with chipotles is wonderful, especially now that the weather is getting colder.

Just to let you know that I was fortunate enough to discover you when you left a comment on David Lebovic's Blog. I've now joined those others who are also fortunate.

This is something which is not very easy to find in Australia. i think i may have to take a look around for it.

Ahh, I don't know Lydia I think I'm just a push over when it comes to chipotle. And after being in Seattle for a month almost, I really could use this one! Sounds great!

DrB, welcome to The Perfect Pantry. So glad you found your way here.

Anh, I'm happy to send some chipotle in adobo your way, if you can't find it close to home.

MyKitchen, I'd be very happy putting these chiles into most anything. The canapes are unusual and surprising -- hope you'll try them.

Chipotles in adobe are a staple seasoning at our house, and the comment about freezing it/them is the way to go: transfer the chiles, sauce and all, to a little Tupperware, and freeze. Then when you want to use some, just pop out the frozen chunk and grate off what you need with a flat cheese/nutmeg grater...

You sparked my curiosity when you left the post on my blog - so I had to stop by for a visit.

I travel to Rt. 2 daily for work, so I have tried the Chipotle Mexican Grill several times. I feel ambivalent about their being owned by McDonalds. However, they serve (almost) exclusively what I call "happy meat", i.e. decently raised, so that is a plus. I love their food! Lydia, I have you to thank for introducing canned chipotles in adobo into my cooking: muchas gracias, chica!!!!

We eat at Chipotle at least once a week. It's our default fast food - never mind that it's owned by McDonalds. Hmm - I do love the smoky flavor of chipotles. Looks like another winner for the pantry!

chipotles in adobo are also great pureed into ketchup on a grilled burger with jack cheese and guacamole.

PSKen, welcome to The Perfect Pantry. Thanks for the tip about grating off the frozen chunk of chipotles. I would never have thought of it!

Sabina, so glad you stopped by!

Lucia, you are so welcome! I've never been to Chipotle Mexican Grill, but I'm glad to know they serve happy meat. You have raised my awareness on this issue and I thank you for that.

Veron, now it seems that I will be the last person to try this restaurant. There's one in midtown, near my husband's New York office, so I have no excuse not to go.

Scott, you are so right.

Lydia, chipotles are so good in just about anything! The other day my cousin added chipotle to her chicken soup and it was DEE-licious! I hear ya on the frustration though, I HATE when people butcher names...

Hillary, chipotles in chicken soup sounds like the beginning of a wonderful Mexican tortilla soup -- is that what you had? Yum.

I didn't know how to pronounce it either, and have never heard the word spoken before, I guessed at chip-pot-l! but know I know :)

I made some chipotle mayo the other day and decided it needed just a touch of raw garlic, the flavours worked really well together. If Anh is reading this, Aztec Mexican Products, Tullamarine, Casa Iberica, Fitzroy & USA Foods, Bentleigh all carry them. Yes Lydia, we have our very own American shop! How cool is that?

Kelly-Jane, now you know! I hope you can find these wonderful peppers in your part of the world.

Neil, that's very cool indeed. Now, why don't we have our very own Aussie shop???

Oh, yes, I know Route 2 and Dunkin Donuts well... though here in Southern California, they have been replaced by the more ubiquitous chipotles (both the chile and the chain). I've gotta tell you, Lydia, I simply adore chiptoles in adobo sauce. I put them in everything from sauces for tacos to spreads for sandwiches because their salty, smoky flavor is addictive! Thanks for the most enjoyable post!

Susan, I knew this would resonate with current and former Rhode Islanders! As bad as I am about the occasional iced coffee, my totally-addicted husband could never live outside the Dunkin Donuts zone. I'd much rather have a restaurant that used chipotles in their food on every corner than a doughnut stand!

Even if the recipe wasn't so amazing, I'd make it just to have that great can in my pantry.

I'm a sucker for packaging and a sucker for flavor and we got both right here.


Almost, I'm a sucker for packaging too. And this recipe could be vegetarian, with a bit of tweaking.

You should come by my place and go to my Recipes category. There is an awesome Chipotle Sauce there. It is wonderful on just about anything.

Julie, thanks for visiting The Perfect Pantry. I found your recipe, and readers, here it is:

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