Chicken Enchilada Spaghetti

At any given moment there are 5-10 half-empty boxes of pasta in my pantry. It’s not like I forget this fact when I’m in the pasta aisle weighing my options, but I’m oddly particular about specific shapes for certain recipes, so inevitably I grab another box. Mostly under the “it’s only a dollar and it lasts forever” mentality.

Our cabinet and pantry space is fairly limited though, and the last few times I’ve returned from the store it’s been a challenge to make everything fit. I’ve even resorted to handing Shane the things I know have to be shoved into the pasta cabinet when we’re putting groceries away. Such a nice wife :) It would be fair to say we’ve reached a breaking point, and I have resolved to use what we have before buying any more pasta.

Chicken Enchilada Spaghetti

This chicken enchilada spaghetti was part of the solution to not only the pasta issue – I combined three random types of spaghetti (angel hair, thin and regular, I think) to make it happen – but it also solved the problem of some leftover shredded chicken languishing in the fridge. I asked Shane before adding it to the menu, and he seemed hesitant, but he fell in love upon taking his first few bites! It was a big hit for me too – not only is it flavorful, but it’s one of the most simple dinners ever. Easily on the table in under 30 minutes, which definitely cannot be said about most traditional enchilada recipes. It’s already on the menu again, and this time the reason has nothing to do with trying to use up pasta :)

Chicken Enchilada Spaghetti
barely adapted from How Sweet It Is

1/2 lb spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 (10 oz) can of red enchilada sauce
3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
fresh cilantro, for garnish

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, add the oil to a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the onion, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cumin, chili powder, paprika and cayenne, and cook for only a minute or so, stirring constantly – just until the garlic is fragrant and the spices are toasted. Add the chicken and the enchilada sauce and stir to incorporate. Reduce the heat to low and add the pasta to the skillet. Use tongs to toss until the pasta is coated with the sauce. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cheese, continuing to toss until melted and combined. Garnish with cilantro before serving.