Charred Poblano Pesto Pasta

Sometimes I overcomplicate things. I’ll pack for a weekend away and, in attempts to bring along some fashion-forward outfits, I’ll pack a hodgepodge of outfits that are enough for a week. Or I’ll try to meet up with so many disparate groups of friends at a concert that it becomes one big cluster trying to organize everyone.

But then I get in the kitchen and things fall into place. Everything happens easily. And the result is something simple but satisfying like this charred poblano pesto pasta. This is a recipe of efficiency, but little proficiency.

Its humble origins are the result of a bout of refrigerator cleaning and a particularly fruitful trip to my local farmer’s market. I had some of the first poblano chiles of the season but my cooking didn’t keep up with my ambition until they were past their prime. It seems wrong to call it a pesto since it’s really a chile puree type thing but I dropped semantics in order to keep things uncomplicated — all you need to know is that it’s simply tasty.

Charred Poblano Pesto Pasta Recipe

Charred Poblano Pesto Pasta

  • Makes: 6 to 8 servings // 2 cups pesto
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Hands-On Time: 25 minutes


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil , divided
  • 1 yellow onion, quartered (about 6 ounces)
  • 4 large poblano chiles (about 1 pound)
  • 1/3 cup pepitas (aka raw pumpkin seeds), plus more for garnish
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 packed cup fresh Italian parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for cooking pasta
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 pound linguine or fettuccine pasta
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta or Cotija cheese, for garnish


Heat oven to broil and arrange rack in the upper third.

Toss onion quarters with 1 tablespoon of the oil then place poblanos and onions on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Broil, flipping the chiles occasionally with a pair of tongs, until blackened on all sides, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add pepitas and garlic and toast until golden brown, about 2 minutes more.

Set onions aside to cool slightly. Place chiles in a plastic bag and let steam until cool enough to handle, at least 5 minutes. Peel the skins off the chiles, then remove stems and seeds, and discard. Roughly chop the chile flesh and set aside.

Place onion, chiles, pepitas, garlic, remaining olive oil, parsley, lemon, sugar, and salt in a blender with 1/3 cup water and puree until smooth and aerated, at least 2 minutes. Taste and add some freshly ground black pepper and adjust seasoning as desired.

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. When done, reserve 1 cup pasta water, and drain pasta in a colander.

Add the pesto, noodles, and reserved water to the pot over low heat and toss well to coat the noodles. Divide the pasta among plates, garnish with cheese and additional parlsey and pepitas, as desired, and serve.

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