Spicy Sausage Pasta with Mexican Tortilla Salad and Avocado Dressing

I know – it’s hot outside – as in record-breaking heat. I know, cooking spicy food when it’s this hot is seriously crazy, but this recipe from kevinandamanda.com has been on my menu for a while. Life just kept getting in the way – you know, those mundane things like getting up and going to work everyday, only to return too tired to even think about eating much less cooking. But enough is enough – tonight I cooked! This recipe is one of those easy, throw-together types that are especially welcomed on busy work nights. More importantly, there is no sacrifice of flavor for the convenience of less time in the kitchen.

I made a few changes to the original recipe (as usual). The original recipe sounded awesome, (most anything from Kevin & Amanda is a hit around our house) and I might not have made any changes, except that it made more sense to use what was on hand. Besides, recipes are designed to evolve, each “chef” building on what went before, adding their own personal interpretation. In that way, recipes are living, breathing things.

The recipe calls for 8 oz of penne pasta – had penne – 12 oz of the tri-colored kind. What’s a few more ounces? I was a bit concerned that the extra 4 oz might make a difference in the saucy consistency, but it didn’t.

The original called for a pound of smoked turkey sausage. I used a pound of Chipotle Sausage because that’s what we’ve had in the freezer since making a Costco run.

Finally, the original recipe called for Monterey Jack Cheese. I didn’t have quite enough Monterey Jack (about 1/2 cup shy), so I used Pepper Jack to make up the difference. While the pasta had no impact on the outcome of the recipe, I think the Chipotle Sausage and Pepper Jack really brought out the “spice” in spicy.

Dinner was served with crisp salad tossed in a creamy avocado dressing. It was a nice, cooling complement to the spice of the pasta. While Kiddo and I love avocados, Hubby is not a fan, with the one exception – in my creamy avocado dressing. (Which also makes for a nice spread on BLTs).

Spicy Sausage Pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb Chipotle Sausage
1 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (10 oz) can Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chiles, Mild
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz penne pasta
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
6 Green Onions, thinly sliced (garnish)

Add olive oil to an oven-safe skillet over medium high heat until just smoking. Add sausage and onions and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add broth, tomatoes, cream, pasta, salt and pepper and stir. Bring to a boil, cover skillet, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.

Remove skillet from heat and stir in 1/2 cup cheese. Top with remaining cheese and sprinkle with scallions. Broil until cheese is melted, spotty brown, and bubbly.

Mexican Tortilla Salad with Avocado Dressing
Avocado Dressing:
1 avocado, mashed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder

TO MAKE DRESSING:

Peel and mash avocado.

Place avocado, lemon juice, sour cream, oil, sugar, garlic salt and chili powder in a blender and mix until smooth.

Tortilla Salad:
1 head iceberg lettuce
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (2 ounces)
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1/2 cup sliced Black olives (optional)
4 tomatoes, sliced
2 Corn Tortillas, cut in strips and fried (can substitute with 1 cup crushed tortilla chips)

TO MAKE SALAD:

Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a saucepan. Once hot, fry tortilla strips until golden brown. About 3-5 minutes. Transfer to paper towel lined plate. Sprinkle with salt and set aside.

Tear lettuce into bite size pieces. Chop green onions.

Toss lettuce and onions with salad dressing. Place into tall, clear bowl.

Scatter black olives over top of lettuce.

In a small bowl, coat tomatoes with dressing. Place on top of lettuce.

Place cheese on top of tomato layer.

Top salad with tortilla strips just before serving.

Hope you enjoy!

One thought on “Spicy Sausage Pasta with Mexican Tortilla Salad and Avocado Dressing

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