Not Quite Christmas, But Close: Red & Green Peppers

If you ask for Christmas in New Mexico, nobody wil will think you’re asking for eggnog and presents. Everyone knows that “Christmas” means red and green chiles, together. Chiles and Pinto beans are New Mexico’s state vegetables, and green chiles – served roasted in the iconic green chile stew or in salsa, for example – are the real hallmark of the state. When your order Christmas, you’re asking for both green and red chiles, and once you’ve gone Christmas and realized you don’t have to choose between the smokey, hotter green chile or the more mild, pungent red, you will never go back to either-or.

The green and red peppers we got in our CSA last week aren’t quite chilis – these were mild, long green and red peppers – but I always think of year-round Christmas in New Mexico when I think about green and red peppers. I decided to fry the green peppers and serve them alongside a mustard aioli, and I roasted the red peppers for a roasted red pepper spread.

I coated the green peppers in salt before throwing them in a fry pan of hot oil. After frying them until slightly blackened, I removed them from the heat and sprinkled more salt on top. Once cool enough to eat, I dipped them in a lemony, mustard aioli. This appetizer also works well with Serrano Peppers.

For the roasted red pepper spread, I roasted the red peppers in the oven. You can char peppers over an open flame, but these peppers were so thin that I thought high heat (400 degrees) in the oven was the best route. After they had blacked, I carefully removed the skins and seeds, and threw them in a food processor. Mixed with a garlic glove, lemon juice, salt, olive oil and pine nuts, these roasted red peppers turned into a sweet and tangy spread that livened up sandwiches for a week and went really well with goat cheese and crackers. Merry-almost-Christmas.

For the recipe and what to cook next

Fried Green Peppers with Mustard Aioli

1 pound green peppers
1/2 Cup mayonnaise (light or regular)
1 1/2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Teaspoon dijon mustard
1 Garlic clove, minced
Salt & Peper

– Heat oil in frying pan
– Toss peppers in salt and throw into pan
– Fry in high heat until peppers are slightly blacked, then remove from heat onto a paper towel
– Lightly press the peppers to remove a little excess oil, then sprinkle with salt
– For the aioli, mix mayonnaise with lemon juice, mustard and garlic.
– Salt and pepper to taste
– Serve peppers alongside aioli for dipping

Roasted Red Pepper Spread

1 pound of red peppers
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic glove
Salt & Pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice

– Roast peppers in oven until blackened (about 30 minutes for thin peppers)
– Carefully peel skin from peppers
– Pull stem out, making sure to remove all seeds along with the stem
– Combine peppers and all ingredients in food processor, and process until smooth
– Serve as a spread on sandwiches or as a dip with cheese and crackers

What to do with leftover fried or roasted peppers? Toss them in pasta or serve as a side to eat as is.