We got a lot of hot peppers in our CSA box this week. Not enough for a canning recipe, of course. Just more than I could possibly cook with in a week, particularly given that my two year old does not like spicy food. In fact, she told me that peppers were spicy, and if you ate them smoke would come out of your head. We’re not sure who taught her that. My husband, on the other hand, LOVES spicy food. I’m sort of in the middle. Once the spicy gets to the point that I’m crying and can no longer taste the other flavors, I’m done. And since I don’t have a great tolerance for spicy, that’s really not that much spice.
So I tend to make food minimally spicy, figuring that my husband can add some hot sauce if he wants. Sriracha has been our hot sauce of choice around here in the past. I can manage about a half a teaspoon of that in my stir-fry. My general experience with hot sauce in the past has been that it’s too spicy to be a useful flavor for me, so I’ve tended to avoid it. (Unless you count Thai sweet chile sauce, which I don’t think you can.) So it came as a bit of a surprise to me how much I liked Vegan Yack Attack‘s Buffalo Chickpea Mac and Cheese. If you haven’t tried this, by the way, you must do so immediately. I expected that the Buffalo sauce would be overwhelmingly spicy, but I was pleased to find that it was more than tolerable. In the dish, it was tempered significantly by the ranch-style dressing and the cheesy noodles, but I found I could happily eat the Buffalo chickpeas out of hand.
So when it came to all of the chiles, I thought maybe I could make a hot sauce. I was still a bit nervous, but figured in the worst case my husband would use it. I couldn’t recognize all of the chiles, but I think there was a cherry pepper, a few jalapeños, and possibly a few mirasol peppers. Nothing more than 5,000 scoville units. This is probably what saves this sauce (and maybe Buffalo sauce) from being so spicy I can’t handle it. If you like spicy, maybe go with some habaneros. They might change the flavor, as I understand that different peppers have different flavors. I understand this conceptually, but generally all I taste is spicy.
To balance out the heat, I used some sweetness and some vinegar. I also added some strawberries for additional sweetness, and some tomatoes just to dilute the peppers out a bit. Two of the strawberries from my garden, but since strawberries don’t last long in this house (someone eats them straight off the plant), I had to use some frozen ones too. The strawberry flavor is subtle but adds a little bit of interest to the sauce.
Inspired by the Buffalo Chickpeas, I made my own strawberry hot sauce cannelloni beans. They split more than chickpeas and crisp up a little faster.
They were quite tasty over a spinach and pear salad. I topped it with some homemade balsamic vinaigrette (1 part olive oil, one part mustard, one part balsamic vinegar – this is pretty vinegary). Yum!
- 4 medium tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- ½ c strawberries
- 3-5 hot chile peppers, stems and seeds removed
- ¼ c sugar
- ¼ c cider vinegar
- Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add tomatoes and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes until they soften and release their juice.
- Run tomatoes through food mill or press through a fine mesh strainer. (Alternately you could use about 1 cup of tomato sauce)
- Return the tomato juice and pulp to the saucepan, add strawberries and peppers. Bring to a boil and simmer for another 10 minutes until strawberries and peppers are soft.
- Pour into blender. Add vinegar and blend until smooth.