Pork Pasta-Olé Verde ‡

This dish is so named because it is like a festive posole, but made with pasta instead of lime-slaked corn. It is a Southwestern version of the famous Italian soup known as Pasta E Fagioli, but with meat and given the consistency of a stew. Rachael Ray on the Food Channel would call it a stoup.

Because the amount of digestible carbs per serving is relatively low, it could serve as a good everyday sort of meal for those of us seeking Lower G. I. fare. Yet, by dint of its gay, colorful, and savory makeup, it ranks as a dish well suitable for presentation to company and even worthy of supplanting posole at the annual TWHC, despite its lack of the usual historical traditions celebrated at this event. It also makes good leftovers for subsequent lunches if you prepare more than your guests can gorge.

The recipe below calls for the use of cubed pork loin; however, it is also very good when made with ground pork, although somewhat less attractive in appearance.

  • 4 oz lower G. I. pasta, rotini, or penne
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb pork tenderloin, in ¾” cubes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 2 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large Poblano chile, seeded and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large carrot, julienned
  • 1 tbsp New Mexico chile powder
  • ½ tsp dried leaf oregano
  • ½ tsp dried leaf thyme
  • ½ tsp dried leaf sage
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 drops tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 (8-oz) can chopped green chile
  • 1 (15-oz) can libbity* beans, rinsed
  • 3 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 6 lower G. I. flour tortillas
  • 2 large jalapeño chiles, chopped, with seeds
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 tbsp cilantro, chopped, or 1 tbsp cilantro sauce
  • 2 tbsp vinegar

Cook pasta according to package directions in 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Drain, add one more tbsp of olive oil, mix well, set aside, and keep warm.

Brown the pork in 2 tbsp olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the onion and continue to brown, another 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms and continue another 3 to 5 minutes until it just begins to brown.

Add the broth and bay leaves, stir, bring to a simmer, and let simmer until pork is deemed to be just done (this will depend on the cut of pork being used).

Add the chile, red bell pepper, carrot, cumin, coriander, chile powder, green chile, and liquid smoke. Stir, reestablish the simmer, and cook for 10 minutes.

Rinse the beans of any thick, cloudy liquid, add to pork, stir, fold in pasta, and simmer another minute, just long enough to reheat the beans and pasta. Stir in the leaf cilantro just before serving.

Place the chopped jalapeños, scallions, garlic, cilantro, and vinegar in a small serving bowl. Mix well. If cilantro sauce is used, omit half the vinegar.

Divide the chile into 6 bowls. Garnish each with a bit of the jalapeño salsa. Serve with a warm rolled-up tortilla on the side.

Optionally as desired, provide a number of side condiments, as described elsewhere in this set of recipes. Since this dish has very little heat, also provide an additional assortment of additives, such as chopped Serrano, Tabasco® or habanero sauce, chipotles in adobo sauce, or the typical chile carribe.

Serves 6.