6.20.2013

CHILI PEPPERS // the local food report

Twice in the past week, I've been annihilated by capsaicin. The first time I was grinding Espelette peppers to make paprika; the second I was helping Rooster Fricke cook up a batch of his "Rocket Fuel." Capsaicin is the compound that makes chili peppers spicy, and it's also the active ingredient in mace. When you get it in your eyes and airway, capsaicin makes it very difficult to see and breathe. It's a job hazard, apparently.


We'll talk about paprika next week, and Rocket Fuel the week after that. Today we're going to talk about spinach salad with chili pepper dressing.

I'd never really thought about eating chili peppers in salad until I met Rooster Fricke. He's obsessed with chilies, and at his home in Woods Hole he has over two hundred plants growing. He was telling me about all the different ways he uses them—hot sauce, in chocolate, in jelly—and fresh, on salads. Never would have occurred to me.

When I got home, I started searching for recipes. I found all sorts of variations—one with chickpeas and roasted red peppers, one with eggplant, tomatoes, and yogurt, and one with roasted poblanos and zucchinis.

They all looked good, but my favorite was an epicurious recipe. It sounded sort of like a Mexican cobb salad, and instead of slicing the peppers and putting them in the salad, you add them to the dressing. It's delicious—spicy but not too spicy, and with enough heft to add a slice of toast and call it dinner.


SPINACH SALAD WITH CHILI PEPPER DRESSING

This recipe comes from an old issue of Gourmet—June 1997. It's a perfect summer dinner. The dressing makes about 1 and 1/2 cups total, but you only need 1/2-3/4 cup for the salad, so plan on having some leftover.

for the dressing:

1 large red bell pepper
2 fresh green chilies (like poblanos or jalapeƱos)
1 large clove garlic
3/4 teaspoon grated lime zest
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 cup olive oil

Roast and peel the peppers. Add these to a food processor along with the garlic and pulse until smooth. Add the lime zest, cilantro, oregano, lemon and lime juice, and olive oil and pulse until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

for the salad:

2 pounds spinach
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup pitted black olives, quartered
1/4 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 cup cooked beans (I like garbanzo, pinto, or black)
6 scallions, thinly sliced
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
4 ounces feta, crumbled
1/2 to 3/4 cup chili pepper dressing

Put the spinach in a large salad bowl. Top with the bacon, olives, mushrooms, beans, and scallions. Dress and toss gently before topping with eggs and feta.

4 comments :

Anonymous said...

Elspeth, this dressing sounds fabulous. I have to confess, though, that any recipe that starts with "Roast and peel the peppers...," brings me to a grinding halt. (Think about it: have you EVER seen me roast a pepper???) I guess I'm going to have to get over that. This looks too good to pass up. ~XO, Mama

Elspeth said...

Roasting peppers is not my thing, either, but it turns out once you roast them it's actually quite easy to peel off the skin. It kind of comes off all at once!

Anonymous said...

Does he sell peppers? Is there a way of getting ahold of him?

Elspeth said...

Hi Anonymous,

He doesn't sell chili peppers, just hot sauce (which I mentioned in this week's post). You can check out his blog here: http://nobskafarms.com/.

Happy reading!

All the best,
Elspeth

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