September 19, 2010

Seasonal Highlight: Thai Chilies

005

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.

007

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.

009

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. 

010

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.

013

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.

002

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! ;)

003

Zucchini Thingie

(I can’t think of a clever name when I’m this medicated…)

Ingredients:

  • 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

004

Directions:

  1. 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’.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Pour the contents of the skillet into a nice, big bowl or plate. Dust with parmesan cheese and drizzle with tahini.

Serves 1 (generously!)

005 (2)

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?

15 comments:

Pure2raw twins said...

I am not a fan of thai chilies, mainly because I do not do well with hot food, and just never been a fan. Although I do know that do help add some depth to dishes.

Your zucchini dish looks amazing!!

Ilana said...

O.M.G. I don't know if you know, but those PARTICULAR Thai chilis have a name in Thai that translate to "mouse shit chilis" because of their distinct shape and size. There's another Thai chili that is a little larger but these little teeny ones rock my world. I haven't touched one since I was in Thailand last summer but I miss them!! This dish really looks fabulous, right up my alley.

Diana said...

Ilana - HAHA! Why am I not surprised? That's the best thing I've read all day.

You know, I bet lots of New Yorkers cook with mouse shit chilies, actually, just minus the chilies. ;)

Erica said...

Those chilies are so cute! I can't believe how tiny they are. I like a good kick - both dishes look totally yum and I always seem to have extra brown rice on hand. I totally wnat to try these sauces! Since I just got the samples of coconut oil and tahini...I think I need to be making some of this deliciousness this week. Hope you are feeling better.

Danielle said...

Wow, another creative recipe to use zucchini for! I'll have to try this out sometime.

Mo 'Betta said...

mmmm, mouse shit chilis, now that sounds appetizing. lol. hope you are feeling better!

CrookedMoonMama said...

Flavor! I love chilies! I will make the vegan version and report back.
xo

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) said...

oh i love chilis! they add heat and flavor and are not: onions, garlic or salt. 3 things i dont enjoy!

the seasonal intro, photo datestamp part, LOL

your head cold, take care of yourself!! colds suck.

if you can swing it, garlic is great for colds, antiviral, etc but i despise it!

Gabriela said...

I've been stuffed up as hell for a few days now, so I think I need some of these chilis in my life. My boyfriend always buys little peppers, but I'm too scared to try them- I love spice, but there's something about the fear of the unknown!! Maybe I'll be inspired to take the plunge sometime soon though!

Mo Diva said...

ZUCHINI THINGIE. LOVE IT! lol. looks delicious and the best dishes are those we dont have names for! thanks for making it a short one instead of zucchini whatchamacallit.

Jess - The Domestic Vegan said...

I love chilies, but I'm a bit of a spice wimp, so I usually just use a little... My boyfriend loves spicy food (so hot that he's practically sweating while eating!), so he likes when I add extra chilies to his portion. :)

Feel better!!

LOL to what llana said about "mouse shit chilis." How appetizing!

sophia said...

NO!!! *stamps foot in indignation* Chili is NEVER evil!!! It is precious goodness!! It is GOLD! It is the seed of...of...gah, must get my head out of the gutter first.

I've had thai chilis before, and they weren't as plump and cute as the one you held in your hand. They are sure spicy, all right, but that just means they're hot. Haha, I'm such a ball of humorous puns today. Not.

Shannon said...

omg, that is too funny about the name :) i have been able to take a little more heat now, so i'd be up for trying them... in moderation, of course!

Gina; The Candid RD said...

YUM, fun flavor definitely!!! And your "Zucchini Thingie" sounds great. And looks great too. I want a spiralizer so I can do a bunch of creative things with zuchhini (or heck, even a grater, which I don't think I have either!! Yikes). And if this meal is one that you can make even when you are "dog-tired" at the end of the day, I'm in!!

I hope you feel better soon :(

tyrah_arn@hotmail.com said...

Your first dish looks/sounds SO good! I would eat that right up. I have not cooked with Thai chilies myself (obviously I've enjoyed them in our favorite Thai takeout ;) but you have me curious. I didn't know they were so little and adorable! Take care of yourself, hope the cold moves on soon.