Continuing My CSAcation: Not All Peppers Are Created Equal

CSA load

Amanda and I need to put on our stretchy pants this week because we got not one, but two CSA boxes as we picked up our neighbors’ box as well. And since they won’t be back in time to use that produce, we’re keeping it and chowing down.

We’re equal to the task though. In this week’s box, we got Japanese eggplant, tomatillos, peaches, anaheim peppers, serrano peppers, sweet corn, cantaloupe, and tomatoes. Because we’re having to give away the excess tomatoes we get from our garden, we elected not to get the tomatoes for the CSA (which is why they’re missing from the picture). And since I don’t eat cantaloupe, that’s Amanda’s domain.

So what to make of all of this? You’re joining that program already in progress as we made our first CSA meal last night. All day, we slow cooked a whole roasting chicken, stuffed with cilantro, lime, and garlic, basting in its own juices as well as the lime juice I drizzled over it at the beginning. With this chicken (well, part of it; we’ll be doing chicken for days), we made chicken tacos with homemade salsa.

I love homemade salsa because it’s easy, forgiving, and sort of a hodge podge. You can throw in whatever you have on hand. We’ve grown cucumbers, tomatoes, and jalapenos this year, and those are usually staples. Since we have an abundance of sweet corn, we usually grill that and put it in as well. But yesterday, we fire roasted our array of peppers, had a sampling, and then crafted a smokier version of our salsa.

Fire-roasted peppers

Let me be clear on what I mean by sampling. Amanda fire roasted the peppers:  jalapenos, anaheim, serrano, and poblano. She brought them in, and while she chopped tomatoes, onion, and cilantro, I peeled the peppers, opened them up, and scraped away the seeds. I arranged them in flat sheets for sampling. It’s a good idea to do this as you want to gauge the heat of your peppers before they go in your salsa.

It’s a good thing, too, because the first one we tried was poblano. And y’all. That tiny piece of pepper hit my tongue, burned like the fires of Hell, and everything that happened after was a blur. I’m sure I spit it out, though I have no idea where. I ran to the sink, turned on the water, and held my tongue there under the water. I could hear Amanda laughing in the background; I believe she also offered me milk.

So. Yeah. Poblano peppers are hot. The more you know….

I managed to regroup, laughed at myself for running to the sink when I had a glass of water sitting right beside me the whole time, and moved on. Anaheim peppers are much milder (thank goodness), on par with bell peppers, but without the sweetness. The fire roasting lent them a nice smoky flavor. Same with jalapenos. Usually, jalapenos are hot for me. Manageable, but hot. I avoid them in nachos, tacos, and sandwiches. But somehow, roasting them mellowed them a bit.

Amanda tried the serrano pepper, told me it was hotter than the poblano, and I abstained from sampling it.

Salsa-tastic

We chopped up anaheim and jalapeno peppers and added them to the salsa with lime juice and salt. Because the tomatoes were from our garden, we have a mix of red and orange tomatoes, which is really pretty.

I’m going to refrain from writing an actual recipe for salsa at this point in time. It’s really a matter of taste. Make sure you seed the tomatoes (otherwise you end up with really watery salsa), and if you use cucumbers (which are great filler if you need to feed a lot of people on few ingredients), seed those as well. Be generous with lime juice and salt and cilantro. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Take caution with poblano peppers. Enjoy with chicken tacos, tortilla chips, on nachos, as a mid-morning snack, or on a salad (that’s my lunch plan, at least).

And as far as the rest of the week goes, here are some thoughts I have:

Japanese eggplant:  I think I want to take a stab at ratatouille. It’s supposed to rain later this week, and I think a nice steamy bowl of ratatouille will be just the thing to make the rainy weather seem a little brighter.

Sweet corn:  Grilled. Cut off the cob and sauteed in butter with salt and pepper. Corn is good no matter how you do it. My other thought is to try a recipe for corn cakes from Two Fat Ladies. Even though the episode it comes from offends me as a Southerner, I forgive them because holy hoe cakes, those corn cakes look delightful!

Peaches:  I’ll be honest – I’ve run into the problem of having too many options! I am thinking about a crumble, a cobbler, some scones, or muffins. That’s obviously in addition to chopping them up with my granola and yogurt in the mornings.

Tomatillos:  We’re a little perplexed by tomatillos. We were going to use them in the salsa, but we weren’t digging the flavor. Any good ideas for using tomatillos?

Happy CSAcationing!


5 thoughts on “Continuing My CSAcation: Not All Peppers Are Created Equal

  1. Salsa verde (with tomatillos) is my favorite!!!!! There must be some good recipes out there. I get anything verde when I eat Mexican. I’m going to find some.

    Also, I LOVE your honesty when you discover new flavors and try things you’ve never tried before. If I was in your kitchen on pepper day, I would have eaten that whole poblano to save you from fiery hell. I love fiery hell on my tongue, for some reason. And we’ve officially ventured into dirtyville.

    1. That’s what I thought too! I thought they were mild chiles. Maybe I’ll try another one. I heard plants can occasionally produce an unusually hot pepper. Great tips on the tomatillos – thanks!

  2. I have yet to receive tomatillos in my box but green enchiladas come to mind. I know there is a recipe in cooks illustrated that makes the green sauce from scratch…may need to make them myself so I can post the recipe…

    Gourmet Veggie Mama also has a delicious green enchiladas recipe…http://gourmetveggiemama.com/2012/05/30/roasted-tomatillo-sauce-with-green-tomatoes/.

    Come and link up to this weeks party when you get a chance…http://inherchucks.com/2012/07/11/whats-in-the-box-34/.

    Looking forward to seeing you there 🙂

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