I use a lot of chiles when cooking at home (people that I swap recipes with don’t ask me if a recipe is spicy, but rather “how spicy is this?”). So you can imagine that I’m excited about the start of Harmons annual chile roasting weekends. Chiles in addition to being delicious do have health benefits. Spicy chiles contain a powerful antioxidant called capsaicin and like most fruit contain a good helping of vitamin C, another powerful antioxidant. Additionally I find that foods with a little “heat” don’t need as much salt to flavor them, which can be helpful for reducing sodium in the diet.
Tips for including chiles:
If you are not used to spicy foods start with milder peppers such as Anaheim chiles and discard the seeds and membranes in the chiles. You can also add some dairy such as milk or plain yogurt to a dish to help reduce the heat (I have gulped many glasses of milk over the years after making a dish too spicy).
When working with spicy chiles wear gloves to avoid feeling a burning sensation. Avoid touching any sensitive part of your body when working with chiles (I have “burned” my eyes more than once over the years). If you don’t wear gloves, rub oil (any cooking oil) onto your hands and then wash with a degreasing type of dish or hand soap.
Some of my favorite ways to use chile peppers include:
- Top a turkey burger or grilled Portobello mushroom with a roasted Anaheim or poblano pepper and guacamole (this combination also appears on my favorite turkey sandwich)
- Stuff a poblano pepper (here is a quick recipe from Cooking Light (use a lower sodium refried bean such as Amy’s light in sodium or Field Day Organic vegetarian black bean refried beans to reduce the sodium in this recipe): http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/refried-bean-poblanos-with-cheese-10000001895991/)
- Make a pot of white chicken chili
- Chop with tomatoes, onions and spices for a great fresh salsa
- Make homemade green enchilada sauce (this is great in rice as well as for making chicken enchiladas)
- Add to a tuna salad (my favorite is Southwest Tuna Salad – see the recipe below)
What is your favorite way to use chile peppers?