January 28, 2011

Salsa specialties

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Since I was invited to be a member of the Potluck blog panel, I’ve been experimenting and cooking up dishes with the great private label products ShopRite  provides to us bloggers to try out — especially the four new Santa Barbara-inspired Special Edition Salsas ShopRite introduced at the NYC Food & Wine Festival in October.

(See my report on the ShopRite-sponsored Grand Tasting on my Food Chain blog, at
You can also see photos and video from the event.)

ShopRite Executive Chef Faith Alahverdian’s Quinoa-stuffed Baby Sweet Peppers Topped with 3-Bean Roasted Corn Salsa were awesome, but then I also deployed the salsa in my go-to adaptation of a classic Mexican dish, Chilequiles.

I originally had Chilequiles at Zarela’s, the restaurant owned by Zarela Martinez, who is a pioneer in fine Mexican cooking in Manhattan, and the mother of Food Network celebrity chef, Aaron Sanchez. I used to make Chilequiles according to Zarela’s recipe in her book “Food from My Heart.” But it is very labor-intensive, and as the years went by, as now-College Boy was growing up and tasks at The Food Chain and my regular Central Jersey reporting ate my life, I adapted the recipe for a quick ‘n’ easy version (below). I’ve brought this dish to office parties and served it at my own, and people always ask me for the recipe.

It can be made with any of the ShopRite Special Edition Salsas, Three Pepper, Three Bean With Roasted Corn, Pico de Gallo Style Salsa or Mango with Peach Salsa, each giving a fresh, new twist to the Chilequiles. But I have to admit, the salsas are just great simply topping some good ol’ nachos: tortilla chips with melted cheddar…

Chilequiles the Easy Way (adapted from Zarela Martinez)

3 or 4 cooked chicken breasts
1 jar of any flavor ShopRite Special Edition Salsa
16 oz. sour cream, preferably cultured Crema Pura Mexicana, available at some ShopRite stores
half large bag white corn tortilla chips, broken up
8 oz. shredded cheese, Monterey Jack, cheddar or a mixture

Shred cooked chicken in casserole dish and toss together with broken-up chips. Mix salsa together with sour cream and then mix that evenly with the chicken and chips in casserole dish. Top with more shredded cheese and bake in 400-degree oven until cheese is browned and bubbling.

Serves about 4.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: As a POTLUCKTM blogger, I received ShopRite salsas from ShopRite for free.