Who says enchilada sauce needs to be used only for enchiladas? This DIY Pasta Bar with Creamy Enchilada Sauce is great for family dinner and entertaining!
This isn’t your normal enchilada sauce.
This is waaaaaaaay better. Way.
Because, cheese. And butter. And milk. Usually I use skim milk for this type of thing but lately I’ve been using whole because I have it in the fridge for N. And because it’s better. (Duh.)
When Anolon (sponsor) approached me and asked me to “Start from Scratch” with a pasta and pasta sauce, I decided to think outside the box a bit. Because…cheese. Wait, does that not work here? Anyways, enchilada pasta is one of my favorite things and I decided to make it a fun DIY pasta bar to keep things interesting and appeal to all tastes.
Before we talk pasta, let’s talk about “Start from Scratch” for a minute. You’ll see a cake mix and a prepared ingredient here and there on my blog (ummm….toddlers!), but for the most part, I try to start from scratch. Because it tastes better AND it’s better for you.
This enchilada sauce is pretty simple to make. It’s a basic white sauce, “enchilada-fied”. Start with butter, melt it, whisk in flour, chili powder, salt, pepper….whisk in milk…thicken…add cheese.
5 ingredients plus salt and pepper. EASY. DELICIOUS. As always, my two favorite words.
Before I get too far, I have to add that this sauce also doubles as an amazing dip for chips. A little too amazing. Break out the fat pants amazing.
Okay, now that we got the whole chip-situation out of the way, let’s talk about this southwestern pasta bar. I think this is such a fun idea for anyone really, but it’s great for a family or even better for entertaining. Each person can assemble their own pasta dish, exactly how they like, made to order.
Makings of a pasta bar:
- Cheesy enchilada sauce, kept warm over low heat
- Cooked pasta – whatever you like , or try gluten-free zucchini noodles
- Shredded chicken (or steak…or tofu…or pork…or shrimp)
- Sautéed peppers and onions
- Toppings: Toppings are always the best part of everything. What’s a sundae without sprinkles and hot fudge? What’s a taco without cheese and tomatoes? What’s enchilada pasta without green onions and tomatoes and all sorts of goodies? The options are endless — diced avocado, crisp tortilla strips, fresh cilantro — whatever you like!
Once you have everything set up, you just heat up a pan over medium heat, throw in your pasta, enchilada sauce, and whatever hot ingredients you want included. Cook it for just a couple of minutes until everything is heated through. And then let your family/friends/party guests top it however they like. It is so fun!
P.S.: Anolon pans really are some of my favorites. Perfectly nonstick, perfectly heavy. Heavy enough to handle one-handed whisking but not so heavy that you’re going to pull a muscle getting them out of the cupboard. They’re durable and reliable. I love them.
For the sauce
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 cup milk
- 3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese
For the DIY pasta bar
- Cooked pasta (or zucchini noodles!), of your choice
- Cooked shredded chicken
- Sautéed red peppers
- Sautéed red onions
- Chopped fresh tomatoes
- Fresh cilantro
- Fresh green onion, diced
- Crisp tortilla strips
- Chopped avocado
- For the sauce, in a 3.5 Qt. Anolon® Advanced Straining Saucepan (you could cook your pasta in this pan as well!), melt butter over medium heat. When melted, whisk in the flour, chili powder, salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes. While whisking, slowly stir in the milk. Continue whisking until milk begins to thicken and bubble. Remove from heat and whisk in cheese until melted. If using for a DIY pasta bar, keep warm over low heat, whisking occasionally.
- In a large skillet, add 1/2 cup creamy enchilada sauce with one cup of pasta, chicken, peppers and onions. Toss together in pan until all ingredients are combined and heated through. Top with desired garnishes.
- Nutrition information is for sauce only.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
*Disclosure: I was compensated by Anolon Gourmet Cookware for my time to develop and photograph this recipe but all opinions are my own, as always.