Coast Cooking

Give your favorite recipes a little extra zip with this not-so-secret ingredient

Your chili will have a spicy kick when you make it with Ro Tel.
Your chili will have a spicy kick when you make it with Ro Tel. Special to the Sun Herald

Ro-Tel — that canned combination of diced tomatoes and green chilies — has become synonymous with the cheesy dip that is a favorite when served at parties, tailgating or while watching football on TV.

There are, however, a lot more delicious uses for the spicy standby than just mixing it with melted Velveeta Cheese to create that famous dip.

Ro-Tel was created in Texas in 1943 when, according to the Ro-Tel website, “Carl Roettele and his wife open a small canning plant in Elsa, Texas, processing over 25K cases of vegetables a year. The product they’re proudest of is their tomatoes and green chilies. Worried people couldn’t spell or pronounce ‘Roettele,’ Carl used the name RO*TEL. Soon, his zesty tomatoes and chilies graced the tables of public figures and politicians throughout Texas.”

They grew the Ro-Tel business through the 1980s and now it is owned by ConAgra Foods, which offers eight varieties, including Original, Mild, Hot, Fire Roasted, Chunky, Mexican Style, Chili Fixin’s and Original-No Salt Added.

Keep a couple of cans in your pantry to give your quick meals a little umph!

For instance, try your favorite variety to make an omelet stand out by using it as a salsa-like topping or by adding it to your spaghetti sauce or chili to kick it up a notch.

Today I’m sharing three recipes that are easy to make with Ro-Tel and your family is sure to love them almost as much as that Ro-Tel cheese dip we all love so much.

Ro-Tel Chili

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups ground beef

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 cups chopped onion

1 chopped bell pepper

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 can white beans

1 can red beans

1 can Ro-Tel Hot Diced Tomatoes with Habaneros

Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning

Cook the beef in a sauté pan until done, remove and set aside. In the same pan, sauté the onion and bell pepper in oil for 5 minutes, add the chili powder, Tony’s and cumin, mix well, then add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes more. Add the beef, beans and Ro-Tel, combine and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and re-season as necessary. Serve with rice or crackers.

Tom’s Ro-Tel Chicken Spaghetti

Tom Johnson owns a cool little place in Yazoo City called Tom’s on Main. He was kind enough to give me this recipe, one of the most popular items on his menu.

1-pound cubed chicken

1 chopped onion

½ cup chopped celery

1 can Ro-Tel (your choice of variety)

1 can cream of chicken soup (I chose to leave this out when I made it)

1-pound spaghetti

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper, Tony Chachere’s is optional

Fill a pot with enough water to cover the chicken, plus an inch or two. Simmer the chicken until done, remove the chicken and set aside. Add the onion and celery to the same pan, and simmer or 3 minutes. Separately cook the pasta until done. Combine the cooked vegetables, chicken Ro-Tel, cream of chicken soup and cheese. Season with salt and pepper. If it is a bit dry, add some of the cooking water from the pasta.

Ro-Tel Salsa

This is about as easy as it gets.

1 can Ro-Tel Tomatoes (not drained)

1 can whole tomatoes (drained)

2 chopped green onions

Juice of ½ a lime

1 finely chopped clove of garlic

1 good pinch of salt

Combine all the ingredients, taste and season to your taste.