Chipotle Spaghetti With Parmesan-Cilantro Croutons

This recipe brings back the best memories. If you've followed me for awhile you've probably heard of Pedro, the man who cooked for us when my mom became too tired to do so. This was one of my favorite dishes he made. Creamy, rich, with a hint of smoke and totally satisfying. When I got off the school bus and ran into the house, I could recognize the smell of it while on the stairs, before I even made it to the kitchen. I thought it was a northern Mexico thing; being so close to the U.S. border, we are more prone to take popular American dishes and "Mexicanize" them. Wrong! You can find versions of this recipe by home cooks all across the country. I don't think I've ever seen it on a restaurant menu, but please let me know if I am mistaken. Need to know who serves this because I'm so willing to pay for it! 

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Yields: 6 servings
Prep Time: 0 hours 20 mins
Total Time: 0 hours 45 mins
For the Spaghetti
1 lb.



white onion, chopped


large cloves garlic, minced


large carrot, peeled and chopped


stalk celery, chopped

2 tbsp.

unsalted butter

1/2 tbsp.

extra-virgin olive oil


Roma tomatoes, cored and chopped (with seeds)


bay leaves


chipotle chilies (from a can of chipotles in adobo. I like Embasa brand)

2 tbsp.

adobo sauce

1/4 c.

heavy whipping cream 

Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving

For the Parm Croutons

baguette, torn into pieces

2 tbsp.

extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

1/4 c.

freshly grated Parmesan

1/4 c.

chopped fresh cilantro 

  1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package instructions until al dente. (I like it JUST cooked through, usually on the shorter time listed on the package. Bite into it; if the center is still uncooked, leave it in 2 more minutes.) Drain, reserving 2 cups pasta water.  
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil and butter in a heavy and very large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook 5 minutes. Add carrot and celery and cook 2 minutes more. Add tomatoes and bay leaves and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. 
  3. Transfer mixture to a blender and add chipotles, adobo, and cream. Add 1 cup reserved pasta water. (Reserve remaining pasta water in case you want to loosen pasta dish before serving.) Blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
  4. Strain sauce back into large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. 
  5. Meanwhile, make croutons: Heat broiler. On a large rimmed baking sheet toss bageutte pieces with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Top with Parmesan. Broil until deeply golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Top with cilantro.
  6. Add cooked pasta to sauce and, using tongs, toss to coat.
  7.  Top spaghetti with croutons and more Parmesan before serving.

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Chelsea Lupkin

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