SIZZLE SIMMER SAUTÉ–Comfort food classics to please a crowd

Jennifer Alexander Ruple

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There’s good news for those who are not in love with northwest Ohio winters. We are only about four weeks away from the beginning of spring! Until then, stay cozy with classic comfort food dishes such as casserole-style Green Chile and Chicken Enchiladas and hearty Pasta Frittata.

Layers of corn tortillas, green chiles and melty Monterey Jack cheese are melded together with a flavorful green chile sauce. The recipe was created at the Santa Fe School of Cooking and is a staple I learned to make while in class. Garnish with shredded iceberg lettuce, diced tomatoes, sour cream and chopped cilantro. 
8 servings.

  • 2 1/2 cups green chile sauce 
  • 24 corn tortillas
  • 4 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 cup finely diced onion

Green Chile Sauce

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour or masa
  • 1 1/3 cups chopped green chiles
  • 1/3 teaspoon freshly ground coriander seed
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • Salt to taste

For the Sauce: Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat and sauté onion until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in the flour. Add the green chiles and coriander and slowly stir in the chicken stock.

Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes. Season with salt.

For the Enchiladas: Heat oven to 350 F. Oil a 9 x 12-inch baking dish.

Spread 1 cup green chile sauce over the bottom of the dish and layer 12 tortillas evenly over the sauce. Top the tortillas with 2 cups chicken, 1/3 of the cheese, and 1/2 cup onion. 

Repeat for a second layer. Top with remaining 1 1/2  cups chile sauce and remaining cheese. 

Cover with foil. Bake 20-30 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.

(Recipe adapted from Susan Curtis and Nicole Curtis Ammerman’s “Santa Fe School of Cooking, Celebrating the Foods of New Mexico,” Gibbs Smith, 2015)

Pasta Frittata
(Spaghetti Pie)

Not your average spaghetti pie, this version could feed a whole football team or, in reality, a few hungry college students visiting for the weekend. It is definitely impressive with eight good-sized portions.

If you have a smallish family, make it and freeze the leftovers in single-serving pieces for those nights when you don’t feel like cooking. 

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 12 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 28-ounces San Marzano diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 3/4 cups whole milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 1/2 cups grated fontina cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly chopped basil 

Heat oven to 425 F. Butter a 9-inch round springform pan.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic and crushed pepper. Cook for 1 minute. Add the sausage and continue to cook, breaking meat into small bits, about 6 minutes. Add spinach. Cook until slightly wilted, about 2 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste. Add diced tomatoes and salt to taste. Continue to cook. Stir occasionally. Once the liquid is mostly evaporated, about 5 minutes, remove from heat and set aside.

In a large pot (use the pasta pot), whisk together milk, eggs, black pepper and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Stir in cheddar, fontina and 1 cup of Parmesan. Add sausage mixture and spaghetti. Stir until combined.

Transfer mixture to prepared springform pan (don’t worry it will all fit). Smooth the top with a spatula. Set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the edges are golden and bubbling, about 35 minutes.

Remove pan from the oven and turn on the broiler. Sprinkle pie with remaining Parmesan and fresh basil. Broil until the cheese is golden, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove from oven. Run a knife around the inside of the pan. Let the pie rest about 10 minutes before releasing and removing the sides of the pan. Cut pie into slices and serve.

(Recipe adapted from

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