Spice up your meals with chiles: there are peppers for every palate, from mild to meteoric – Healthy Food In A Flash

Spice up your meals with chiles: there are peppers for every palate, from mild to meteoric – Healthy Food In A Flash – Recipe

Jack Bishop

MENTION CHILE PEPPERS and most Americans assume you’re talking about heat, and nothing else. But there are hundreds of chile varieties, with vast differences in taste. Fresh chiles can be fruity, floral, vegetal, or bitter, as well as just plain hot, while dried chiles offer deeper, smokier, and earthier flavors. Curry pastes use fresh or dried chiles with herbs and seasonings to form the base for spicy sauces. The right chile will add flavor and excitement to your dinner–without adding any fat.

These quick, easy recipes rely on some of the most widely available chiles in American markets. They range from mild to hot and offer a sampling of the many uses for chiles.

Corn Soup with

Poblano Chile Cream

HEAT LEVEL: MILD | SERVES 4

Fresh poblano chiles have a rich flavor

without too much heat. The chile

cream takes 30 minutes from start to

finish, but you can work on the soup

while the chiles are roasting and cooling,

and have both parts ready at the

same time. If you like, toast thin slices

of French bread to use as croutons.

Float one slice in each bowl of soup

and place a dollop of poblano cream

on top. Serve the soup with a tomato

and red onion salad.

Poblano Cream

4 medium poblano chiles

(about 12 ounces)

3 ounces silken tofu

Salt

Corn Soup

2 tablespoons extra-virgin

olive oil

3 large shallots, minced

(about 1/2 cup)

2 tablespoons flour

4 cups vegetable broth

3 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels,

coarsely ground in food

processor

Salt

1. For poblano cream: Preheat the

broiler. Place chiles on baking sheet and

roast a few inches from broiler, turning

several times, until skins are charred,

about 8 minutes. Place chiles in bowl

and cover with plastic wrap. Set chiles

aside until cool enough to handle, about

10 minutes. Peel and seed chiles. Place

chiles in blender with tofu and salt to

taste. Process, scraping down sides as

necessary, until smooth. (Add water,

1 teaspoon at a time, if mixture seems

dry and won’t puree.) Scrape the

poblano cream into a small bowl and

adjust seasonings.

2. For soup: Heat oil in large saucepan

over medium heat. Add shallots and

saute until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir

in flour and cook, stirring constantly, for

2 minutes. Slowly stir in broth, making sure

flour dissolves. Add corn and salt to taste.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer

until corn is tender and soup thickens, about

5 minutes. Adjust seasonings.

3. To serve: Ladle soup into individual

bowls. Spoon a generous dollop of poblano

cream into each bowl and serve immediately.

PER SERVING: 294 CALORIES, 9 G PROTEIN, 8 G FAT,

1 G SATURATED FAT, 54 G CARBOHYDRATES, 6 G FIBER,

58 MG SODIUM, 5% CALCIUM

Fiery Thai Eggplant and

Bell Pepper Curry

HEAT LEVEL: VERY HOT | SERVES 4

Red curry paste is made from dried

chiles, lemongrass, garlic, and other seasonings.

It’s mixed with coconut milk to

make classic Thai red curries. The separation

technique in step I helps the paste

to dissolve without lumps and brings out

the curry flavor. Cushion the heat from

this dish with rice.

1 14-ounce can reduced-fat

coconut milk

1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon granulated cane juice

3 small eggplants (about

1 1/4 pounds), cut into 1-inch chunks

1 medium red bell pepper,

stemmed, seeded, and cut into

1-inch pieces

1 medium yellow bell pepper,

stemmed, seeded, and cut into

1-inch pieces

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/2 cup whole fresh basil or mint

leaves

1. Open can of coconut milk without

shaking. Carefully spoon thickened layer

from top of coconut milk and transfer to

large casserole or Dutch oven. Repeat until

you have about 1/2 cup of coconut milk in

pan. Add curry paste to pan and whisk to

combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat

and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes.

2. Whisk in remaining coconut milk, soy

sauce, and granulated cane juice. Bring

mixture back to a simmer and stir in

eggplants. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally,

until eggplants are almost tender,

about 7 minutes. Stir in bell peppers and

cook, uncovered, until crisp-tender, 4 to

5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the

lime juice and herbs. Serve immediately.

PER SERVING: 179 CALORIES, 4 G PROTEIN,

10 G FAT, 6 G SATURATED FAT, 19 G CARBOHYDRATES,

5 G FIBER, 480 MG SODIUM, 6% CALCIUM

Jerk Tofu

HEAT LEVEL: VERY HOT | SERVES 4

Habanero chiles are intensely hot, with

a floral flavor. One whole habanero gives

this dish a lot of heat. Use less if you want

a milder dish. Serve with plenty of rice

and a steamed vegetable or leafy salad.

16 ounces firm or extra-firm tofu

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon

canola oil

1 small onion, chopped fine

2 medium garlic cloves, minced

1 habanero chile, stemmed,

seeded, and minced

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 cup vegetable broth

2 tablespoons rum

1 tablespoon lime juice

Salt

1. Cut tofu widthwise into eight 1/2-inch-thick

slabs. Blot tofu dry between several

layers of paper towels.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick

skillet until shimmering. Add tofu and cook

over medium heat until golden brown, 6 to

7 minutes. Turn tofu and cook until golden

brown on second side, about 5 minutes.

Transfer tofu to plate.

3. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to the

empty pan. Add onion and saute until

browned, about 2 minutes. Add garlic, chile,

and allspice and saute until fragrant, about

30 seconds. Add broth, rum, lime juice, and

salt to taste. Place tofu back in pan and

cook, turning once, until tofu is glazed and

sauce has thickened, about 30 seconds.

Serve immediately.

PER SERVING: 238 CALORIES, 18G PROTEIN,

15 G FAT, 2 G SATURATED FAT, 9 G CARBOHYDRATES,

3 G FIBER, 21 MG SODIUM, 24% CALCIUM

Black Bean Soup

with Ancho Chiles

HEAT LEVEL: MILD | SERVES 4

Anchos (which are dried poblano chiles)

are rich, earthy-tasting, and even a bit

sweet. They work wonders in a basic

black bean soup. Serve the soup with flour

or corn tortillas and a leafy salad.

4 medium dried ancho chiles

(about 1 ounce), stems and

seeds discarded

1 1/4 cups very hot water

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 medium onion, chopped fine

3 medium garlic cloves, minced

3 15-ounce cans black beans,

drained and rinsed

Salt

2 tablespoons lime juice

Minced fresh cilantro leaves

for garnish

1. Set large saucepan over medium heat

and add chiles. Toast, stirring constantly,

until very fragrant, about 2 minutes. With

tongs, transfer chiles to small bowl and

cover with hot water. Set aside until they

have softened, about 15 minutes.

2. Add oil and onion to empty saucepan.

Cook onion until softened, about 3 minutes.

Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about

30 seconds. Add beans, salt to taste, and

2 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat,

and simmer until flavors meld, about 7 minutes.

3. With ladle, transfer 1 cup bean mixture

to blender. Add chiles and soaking

liquid. Puree until smooth.

4. Stir mixture in blender back into

saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer to

blend flavors, about 2 minutes. Stir in lime

juice and adjust seasonings. Serve immediately,

garnishing bowl with cilantro.

PER SERVING: 327 CALORIES, 18 G PROTEIN,

7 G FAT, <1 G SATURATED FAT, 49 G CARBOHYDRATES,

16 G FIBER, 39 MG SODIUM, 16% CALCIUM

Spicy Vegetable Tagine

HEAT LEVEL: MODERATE | SERVES 4

Serrano chiles are similar to jalapenos,

but a little hotter and not quite as bitter.

The sweetness of raisins offsets the heat

of the chiles in this meatless version of

the classic North African stew. Serve

over couscous for a complete meal.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 medium carrots (about 6 ounces),

peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

3 medium zucchini (about 1 pound),

halved lengthwise and cut crosswise

into 1/2-inch-thick half circles

2 medium garlic cloves, minced

3 medium serrano chiles, stemmed,

seeded, and minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained

and rinsed

1/3 cup raisins

Salt and ground black pepper

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

leaves

1. Heat oil in large saute pan or Dutch

oven. Add onion and carrots and saute over

medium heat until slightly softened, about

5 minutes. Add zucchini and saute until vegetables

are tender, about 7 minutes.

2. Raise heat to medium-high, add garlic,

chiles, and cumin, and saute until fragrant,

about 1 minute. Add vegetable broth,

chickpeas, raisins, and salt and pepper to

taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and

simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavors

blend, about 5 minutes.

3. Stir in cilantro and adjust seasonings.

Serve immediately.

PER SERVING: 260 CALORIES, 9 G PROTEIN, 8 G FAT,

1 G SATURATED FAT, 39 G CARBOHYDRATES, 8 G FIBER,

41 MG SODIUM, 10% CALCIUM

Smoky Sweet Potato Puree

with Spiced Spinach

HEAT LEVEL: MODERATE | SERVES 4

Chipotles are dried, smoked jalapenos

that are often sold in cans with a vinegary

tomato sauce called adobo. The visual

and textural contrasts between the pureed

sweet potatoes and wilted spinach make

this delicious dish especially appealing.

To save time, clean and cook the spinach

while the sweet potatoes boil.

Sweet Potatoes

2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled

and cut into 1-inch chunks

Salt

2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo

sauce, minced with 2 teaspoons

sauce

2 tablespoons minced fresh

cilantro leaves

Spinach

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

3 medium garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

2 pounds spinach, stemmed,

washed, and shaken to remove

excess water (about 12 tightly

packed cups)

Salt

1. Place sweet potatoes in large saucepan

and add enough water to cover by

several inches. Add salt to taste and bring

water to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat

slightly and cook until sweet potatoes are

tender, about 15 minutes.

2. Drain sweet potatoes, reserving 1/2 cup

cooking water. Place sweet potatoes in large

bowl with chiles and adobo sauce and

cilantro. Use potato masher to mash sweet

potatoes, adding reserved cooking water as

needed until mixture forms a fairly smooth

puree. Add salt to taste.

3. Meanwhile, heat oil in large stockpot

over medium heat. Add garlic and pepper

flakes and cook until fragrant, about

1 minute. Add damp spinach. Stir well to

coat with oil, cover, and cook, stirring two

or three times, until wilted, about 4 minutes.

Uncover and simmer to cook off excess

liquid, 1 to 2 minutes. Season spinach with

salt to taste.

4. To serve, divide sweet potato puree

among individual bowls (pasta bowls are

ideal). Top with portion of spinach and serve

immediately.

PER SERVING: 371 CALORIES, 10 G PROTEIN,

5 G FAT, 1 G SATURATED FAT, 76 G CARBOHYDRATES,

14 G FIBER, 234 MG SODIUM, 23% CALCIUM

Jack Bishop is the food editor of Natural Health and the author of several cookbooks, including Vegetables Every Day (HarperCollins, 2001).

COPYRIGHT 2002 Weider Publications

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group