Chile peppers are primarily used for culinary purposes, as a spice added to various dishes and sauces. Although it seems that larger peppers would have more spice, in reality, the smaller and thinner a chile pepper is, the spicier it will be. We looked at 5 of our favorite fresh chile peppers and realized that when dried they became some of our go-to dried ones.
Fresh Jalapeno / Dried Chipotle
People use jalapenos in so many different ways. They are great diced and added to salsa, sliced and added to soups, or stuffed with cheese and baked – and of course, topped on nachos at the ballpark. The heat varies significantly, so you have to taste them before deciding which dish to add them to. In the midwest, these peppers are easy to grow in your home garden. Jalapenos are a delicious addition to any meal or dip you want to have an added kick.
And how do we get a chipotle pepper? We smoke-dry jalapeno! They add a mild but earthy spiciness to everything from bbq sauce and hot sauce to meat marinade and sweet potatoes. The chipotle pepper is available whole or ground, even canned in adobo sauce.
Fresh Habanero / Dried Habanero
I like some heat, and the habanero is my favorite pepper to grow, cook with, store, and eat. This pepper grows so quickly and provides top spice to chili, salsa, dips, salad dressings and anything else you like to pack a punch. If you cook with the seeds of the pepper, you will get more spice; remove the seeds to knock it down a tad.
If you grow habaneros, you will get a large number of peppers from a single plant. I store mine to use all winter. Wash, cut the stems off and pop into a freezer bag. Remove the peppers one by one to add to your favorite winter soups, stews, chilis, salsas, etc. And if you prefer the extra steps, try your hand at drying the peppers. Drying can be done with a dehydrator, using the oven or hanging the peppers to dry.
Fresh Poblano / Dried Ancho
A stuffed poblano pepper is one of my favorite dishes. Fresh poblanos have a mild taste but when heated the dormant flavors awaken and bring out the heat of the poblano. These large-sized peppers are great for stuffing with cheese & baking or stuffing with pulled pork and serving with a side of sweet potatoes. At Feed Your Vitality, one of our customer favorites was our Poblano Pork Verde. It is a pulled pork stuffed poblano pepper with a delicious tomatillo salsa. Try broiling, peeling and chopping the peppers then add to taco filling or cornbread batter.
When dried, the poblano pepper is called ancho or chile ancho. The drying process turns the ripe poblano into a chewy, raisin-sweet ancho. To make a fabulous chili or salsa, toast the anchos briefly in a dry skillet, soak them until soft in water and then puree. Add to your dishes to give them the spice you like.
Fresh Cayenne / Dried Cayenne
Cayenne peppers pack intense heat. Again, the smaller and thinner the pepper, the spicier it is. That is true for the cayenne pepper – it hits right away and burns long. These peppers have many health benefits. Watch the spice factor before adding to dishes — use with restraint if you have tender-tongue eaters.
To get this intense flavor in a sauce, as a dry rub or as a ground spice, use the dried version of the cayenne pepper. My family loves to add the spice to a stir-fry to give some heat to the protein and veggies.
Fresh Anaheim / Dried Chile California
So let’s move on to the mild side. If you like sweet and juicy peppers without the punch, the Anaheims are for you. These green chiles are a tasty treat added to your home fries, rice, mixed into omelets or scrambled eggs.
Want a sweet-tart flavor to add to an enchilada sauce or pork stew? Dehydrate the Anaheim peppers once they turn red. Once ground, these peppers are generally made into a red chile sauce. The red chile powder is simple and usually blended with water, herbs, and spices.
I’m one of those home cooks that doesn’t follow a recipe. I also like to throw together some ingredients that I see in my refrigerator or garden and make a new meal. My husband will eat anything I put in front of him so that’s always good for my cooking ego. Recently, this is what I tried with veggies from my garden which included a jalapeno for some added spice. It was quite a success!
Creamy Cajun Shrimp and Sausage Skillet
Servings = 2
- 1/3 onion, finely chopped
- 1 large fresh jalapeno, finely chopped (optional)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 andouille sausages, sliced bite size
- 10 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
- 6 oz fresh spinach, chopped
- 3 fresh banana peppers, seeded and chopped
- 12 oz cauliflower rice
- Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
- 4 oz cream cheese (optional)
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and jalapenos. Saute until veggies are softened, about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile in a medium skillet cook sausage over medium heat, flipping periodically. Once half way cooked, add shrimp to pan with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Continue cooking, about 5 minutes or until sausage is cooked through and shrimp is pink.
- To the large skillet, add spinach, peppers, cauliflower rice and cream cheese. Add seasoning to taste. Continue cooking over medium heat until spinach is wilted, cauliflower is heated through and cheese is melted.
- Plate veggies and top with sausage and shrimp. Eat hot!
- Use any veggies you enjoy. Today I grabbed all of this out of my garden.
- If you are not eating cheese or dairy, you can make this creamy by adding some coconut milk or try adding some Bragg Liquid Aminos for a stir fry taste. Or, just season it with your favorite seasonings.
- My sausages were about the size of a bratwurst.
Rajin’ Cajun Spice Blend
This recipe comes straight out of our SHAPE ReClaimed Simple Recipes for Phase I cookbook. This spice blend is excellent on fish, chicken or pork. It is a delicious blend for spicing up burgers. Toss cauliflower or broccoli florets with mix and add fresh lemon. I’m a spice girl so I toss just about any vegetable with this blend to add a little kick!
Yield: approximately 1/4 cup
- 2 tsp Kosher or sea salt
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 1/4 tsp dried oregano
- 1 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container.
Spicy Zucchini Boats
Let’s use the spice blend above to make deliciously seasoned zucchini boats. This recipe can be easily adapted to grill, roast or air fry so you can enjoy it year round.
- 2 large zucchini
- 2 Tbsp olive oil or olive oil spray
- Rajin’ Cajun seasoning (see above recipe) to taste
- Provel or other creamy cheese (Keto option)
- Preheat grill or oven to 350°F or preheat air fryer to 390°F.
- Wash zucchini, trim ends, cut lengthwise, spoon out seeds to make a boat.
- Rub zucchini with olive oil (or spritz with olive oil spray) and sprinkle with Rajin’ Cajun spice blend to taste.
- Place on a baking sheet, directly on the grill or in your air fryer basket, skin side down. Bake or grill for 20–25 minutes or until zucchini has softened. In the air fryer, cook for 10 minutes and adjust cooking time if necessary.
KETO OPTION: Fill zucchini boat with provel cheese (or your favorite cheese) just before popping off of the grill, out of the oven or out of the air fryer basket. Allow to melt and serve.
APPETIZER OPTION: Want a healthy appetizer to bring with you to your next gathering? Prepare this dish your favorite way and cut the zucchini boats into chunks. Healthy appetizer awaits your party guests! 🙂
FULL MEAL OPTION: Want to make a full meal? Make the zucchini boat the base of your meal. Stuff the zucchini with pulled pork or chicken, bell peppers, onions or your favorite vegetables and top it with a healthy sauce. If your kids are picky, stuff theirs with pasta or pizza sauce and cheese; they will never know they’re eating healthy!
#bringonthespice #Ineedsomeheat #salsa #growyourown #antiinflammatory
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