Heard of Ruby Tuesday's? They are a chain restaurant in the USA offering super-sized plates of good ol' American fare, usually smothered in some highly calorie intensive sauce or fried and battered up more than is good for you. I found it mildly funny that our local Ruby's was located right outside the entrance to the Cardiovascular unit of our local hospital. Strange coincidence?
So I spotted this dish on Noor's site, for those of you who don't know her, Noor is a native of the beautiful Southern US state of Tennessee who now resides in Saudi Arabia with her family and blogs at Ya Salaam Cooking. And moving from the gorgeous state of TN hasn't dampered her cooking prowess, she has some of the most innovative and international dinners in town, thats for sure. I love seeing what she whips up for her family, and I took a particular fancy to this dish when she re-created it at her home.
The pasta dish consists of seasoned, grilled chicken in a heavy cheese sauce that has mild American Southwest flavors courtesy of a liberal dose of salsa, alongside a nice serving of black beans. Since I've never actually had this dish at Ruby Tuesdays, I thought I'd play around with the ingredients and make "my" version. Even though there are three components - pasta, chicken and black beans, it doesn't take too long to whip up each part, and you can always go the short-cut route and use pre-cooked rotisserie chicken.
Ruby Tuesday's Sonoran Chicken Pasta with Spicy Black Beans - adapted from RecipeLink and Ya Salam Cooking
Sonoran Cheese Sauce
4 tbsp butter or margarine
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
3 small clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup hot water (*Adjust based on how thick you want the sauce)
2-3 tbsp chicken stock
1 1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used Monterrey Jack)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce, or more to taste
3/4 cup prepared salsa (medium hot)
2 Tbsp sour cream
1. Melt butter in a saucepan and add onion and garlic. Saute until onion is transparent.
2. Stir in the flour to make a roux and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Do not brown.
3. Mix the half-and-half, hot water*, and chicken stock. Add mixture slowly to roux, stirring constantly with a whisk to avoid lumps. Allow to cook 2-3 minutes.
4. Add cheese, cayenne pepper, hot sauce to sauce. Stir to blend until cheese is melted. Do not allow to boil.
5. Add salsa and sour cream to sauce and blend.
*Start with small quantities of hot water and chicken stock. If the sauce is too think, you can always thin it out with more hot water or chicken stock.
Spicy Black Beans
1 large can black beans, pre-cooked or soaked (~10 or 11 oz)
1 Tbsp oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 small green bell pepper, finely chopped
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
Salt to taste
Optional - 1 green chilli, chopped or 1/2 tsp chilli powder
1. Rinse black beans in water and drain. Reserve.
2. Heat oil in a medium saucepan, add onion and garlic, fry till onion is softened. Add bell pepper and chilli (if using). Saute and then add spices.
3. Add in black beans and fry for about 2-3 minutes. Adjust salt and spice seasoning to taste.
Pasta and Chicken
1 bag cavatappi (or any medium sized pasta like penne) ~ 16 oz/1 lb
2 cups chicken breast
1. Prepare pasta as per package directions (boil in salted water, drain and reserve. Keep warm).
2. Season chicken with salt, pepper and any preferred spices e.g Cajun seasoning or a combination of chilli,coriander and onion powder and grill till done. Slice and reserve.
1/2 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped
4 stalks green onion, chopped
In a large serving bowl, toss pasta and sauce while pasta is warm. Add chicken and toss.
I usually add in the black beans as well, or you can serve those on the side.
Garnish with tomatoes and green onions.