Add Canned Green Chiles To Give Bland Marinara Sauce A Zesty Kick

Canned green chiles are far too good of an ingredient to be left sitting on your shelf. Coming in a variety of styles, from the famous New Mexican Hatch chiles, to the related but more mild styles like Anaheim, green chiles all share a similar profile of bright, vegetal flavor, with a varying amount of heat. They are a staple in the cuisine of the American Southwest and Northern Mexico, as their satisfying spice can bring a lot of flavor to dishes like cheeseburgers, stews, and queso without overwhelming them the way hotter, more intense peppers can. That versatility is exactly why canned green chiles can be used in so many recipes beyond the classics, and one creative use for them is in a tomato sauce like marinara.

Spicy tomato sauce is nothing new, but canned green chiles can add a whole new dimension beyond your standard arrabbiata sauce. A well-made tomato sauce with the standard red pepper flakes can of course be great, but if you end up with a marinara sauce that's lacking in the flavor you want, red pepper flakes don't really bring enough to the table to save it all by themselves. Canned green chiles, on the other hand, bring both heat and a punchy acidic flavor that can transform a bland sauce into something much more satisfying. They can wake up the flavors already in your marinara in a big way, and their tang and bite will enliven the whole meal.

Canned green chiles can give your marinara extra spice and depth

Since canned green chiles already have the convenience of being chopped in the can, the only thing you need to do to prepare them for your marinara sauce is to sauté them in a pan with some oil for two to three minutes, which will deepen their flavor and add a little browning. Adding them straight to the tomato sauce will boost it right away, but for the best result you should simmer your sauce with the green chiles for about 15 minutes to let the flavors meld.

Canned green chiles also work well with other additions that can upgrade your marinara. Green chiles are frequently paired with smoky pork, and pancetta or bacon will work great here while also adding their own salty flavor to enhance your tomato sauce. Shrimp is a classic pairing with spicy pasta sauce and will complement green chiles with its mildly sweet flavor.

If you prefer to stick with veggies, sweeter peppers like bell or cherry peppers will balance things out and add some extra crunch, and they're already natural pairings for tomato sauce. Finally, meaty additions like mushrooms and artichoke will add a savory element that neither tomato sauce nor green chiles have, but is very welcome. Canned green chiles are already great on their own, but toss them in tomato sauce and they also unlock a lot of possibilities.