I probably have no business writing a seasonal highlight post on these chili peppers, considering the date stamp on these photos is August 2 and the farmer’s market already looks quite different. But consider the alternative: photos of me, unshowered, surrounded by a sea of used snot rags and an endless flow of Yogi tea that smells like a strange combination of eucalyptus and something I can’t quite put my finger on…damp basement? Maybe stuffy attic.
I’m happy to narrate my nasal excretions as well.
Not delicious? Thai chilies it is, then. Works for me—in my current head-cold misery, blogging is pretty much the only thing I have energy for. Come to think of it, these chilies are probably the only thing that could possibly clear my colossal head-balloonyness, anyway.
So here we go. About six weeks ago, one of my coworkers introduced me to these tiny, devilish chilies. She ended up going on a chili pepper bender, actually, purchasing a new plant from the farmer’s market practically every week since. Even she couldn’t quite keep up with the plant’s proliferation, however, so she shared a handful with me. I was wary, not being a huge fan of spicy-hot flavors, but these little guys come in such tiny packages that I figured I should give ‘em a try.
It was worth it! Just one of these peppers lends a noticeable yet manageable kick to a single-serving dish. I contemplated purchasing a plant of my own,
but remembered that my thumb is not so much green as whatever color represents “plant killer!!!” (Rest in peace, dear basil plant.)
So I settled for playing around with the market’s chilies several nights in a row. It was fun! I came up with several meals that benefitted from the chilies’ spice quite nicely. Paired with another seasonal highlight, the zucchini (which, I’ll admit, is more like a year-round obsession for me), I’ve added a few dishes to my regular rotation.
This one is super-simple. I spiralized a zucchini to make noodles and drowned them in a gargantuan portion of Gena’s Carrot Miso dressing. It’s a wonder that any of this stuff makes it out of the blender, since I inevitably start eating it straight with a spoon immediately. In this case, I was lucky to have some on hand that had escaped said spoon.
As for the chilies, I diced one up finely and threw it in a small skillet along with about a teaspoon of coconut oil and a pinch of minced garlic. Once that became fragrant, I stir-fried some broccoli and cashews with salt and pepper and topped my bowl of zucchini with the contents of the skillet.
I guess it’s a bit anticlimactic to be writing a whole post on an ingredient that barely comes through in photographs, but please take my word for it that the flavor is most definitely there.
The next dish I made with a chili and some zucchini was the following mess, and while it doesn’t look beautiful, it immediately became a dish I love so much that I often dream about it all day until dinnertime when I can finally make it.
Seriously, I’ve eaten this meal at least once a week for like, two months now. The best part? (Besides the taste, that is.) It’s so totally easy and comes together so quickly that I don’t mind making it even on the nights when I’ve come home late and am dog-tired. The key is having cooked brown rice (or other grain) on hand. To ensure this, I like to cook a large amount of rice whenever I know I won’t be leaving the house for at least 45 minutes, which is no big deal—just put the pot on the heat, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, set the timer and go about your business. You can even freeze any portion of rice you don’t think you’ll use within the week—if you can keep from repeating this dish, that is! ;)
(I can’t think of a clever name when I’m this medicated…)
- 1 medium-large zucchini
- 1 tsp oil (I like coconut oil)
- 1 tiny Thai chili pepper, minced, or red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1/8 tsp minced garlic
- 1/2 cup-1 cup cooked grain (such as brown rice)
- 1 egg
- salt and pepper
- Toppings: grated parmesan cheese and tahini
- Grate zucchini. You can do this with a normal box-grater type tool, but I highly recommend pulling out the food processor with the shredding attachment/disc thing (pulsing in a blender might also work if you are FP-less). By grating my zucchini this way (I usually chop it into 8 or so sections first), it doesn’t start to ooze its water the way it does when you’re pressing it against a box grater the whole time. Plus it takes approximately 4.36 seconds to do this in the food processor, not to mention the spared elbow grease. I’m just sayin’.
- Place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and drizzle in the oil. Throw in the minced chili pepper and garlic and sautee until fragrant and starting to brown, a minute or two.
- Add the rice and stir a bit until coated with the oil mixture and warmed. Make a hole in the center and crack your egg into it. Scramble until cooked through. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Turn off the heat. Add shredded zucchini and start stirring to distribute the egg-rice mixture throughout. The zucchini should get warm in the skillet, but won’t cook so that it starts releasing a lot of water. Add more salt and pepper, if desired.
- Pour the contents of the skillet into a nice, big bowl or plate. Dust with parmesan cheese and drizzle with tahini.
Serves 1 (generously!)
Ugly? Yes. Odd? Perhaps. Delicious? Seriously.
This may very well be one of many recipes that never makes it out of my own kitchen, but I’m just glad it found it’s way into my kitchen in the first place! I’m sure this zucchini thingie phase will pass eventually, but in the meantime I shall eat quite well indeed.
If I can convince myself to step out of my rut ever so slightly, I’m thinking a vegan version would come together equally well by substituting crumbled tofu for the egg and nutritional yeast/vegan parm for the parmesan cheese.
Sounds like I better get started on this week’s batch of rice so I’m prepared for the chili-zucchini crave to strike! What do you think of chili peppers? Fun flavor or evil ingredient?