Chili Today

Condiment

Chili Today Pimento Cheese

Makes about 3 cups.

Pimento cheese is a treat that’s especially beloved down South. It makes a mean cheese sandwich, is mighty fine on a hamburger, and is right at home served with crackers or crudités. Our version gets its rich flavor from Chili Today and smoked paprika.

8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese
8 ounces softened cream cheese
1 clove garlic, mashed or grated
2½ teaspoons Chili Today
½ teaspoon (heaping) smoked paprika
2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
½ cup diced, roasted red pepper*
½ cup good, store-bought mayonnaise
Black pepper to taste

Grate the cheddar cheese on the large holes of a box grater into a mixing bowl. Add the cream cheese, broken into chunks, then add the remaining ingredients. Beat with an electric mixer (or by hand) until well combined and you can’t see any distinct chunks of cream cheese. Taste and add more vinegar or Chili Today, if desired.

Transfer the pimento cheese to a container with a tight-fitting lid. Chill for at least two hours before serving. Tightly covered, pimento cheese will keep for more than a week in the fridge.

*Jarred red peppers are fine, here. Just make sure that they’re well drained.

[Sidebar]

Chili Today is a house-made chili powder. It’s a complex, yet subtle, combination of fruity ancho and smoky Urfa chilies ground with paprika, ginger, cinnamon, Mexican oregano, onion, cumin, garlic, and long pepper.

Appetizer

Chili Today Honey-Toasted Pepitas & Almonds

Makes 2 cups.

Salty, spicy, sweet, and crunchy — here’s a snack that hits every delightful note. It’s super easy to make (a godsend for entertaining unexpected guests). Serve with beer or champagne, cheese or ice cream.

1 cup raw pepitas / pumpkin seeds
1 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons Chili Today blend*
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
Pinch dried orange zest

Put the honey, sugar, salt, and Chili Today blend into a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup. Line a cookie sheet with baking parchment. Set both aside.

Dump the pepitas and almonds into a large, non-stick skillet set over medium heat. Toss or stir until the pepitas are puffed and both seeds and nuts are lightly toasted, about 6 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat.

Pop the honey mix into the microwave and cook on high for 30 or 40 seconds. (The honey will bubble-up madly, hence the over-sized measuring cup.) Remove the cup from the microwave and give its contents a stir.

Return the skillet to the heat and pour the honey/spice mixture over the pepitas and almonds. Cook, stirring constantly, for another 2 minutes. Sprinkle the orange zest over the mixture, then scoop it onto the parchment-lined cookie sheet, spreading it into a single layer. Cool for 10 minutes, then turn chunks of the mix over to cool completely. (The honey coating will crisp as it cools.) Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

* Available in our Cambridge shop and online.

Main

Vegetarian Chili with Smoky Pickled Onions

Serves 4 to 6.

2 cups diced onion
1/4 cup minced celery
1 cup diced red bell pepper
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 15-ounce cans beans, drained (kidney, black, or pinto beans)
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with their juice (fire-roasted is nice)
1/4 cup oil (avocado, grapeseed, or olive)
1 tablespoon Chili Today blend
1 bay leaf
1 cup cooked grain, such as farro, barley, brown rice, or bulgur (optional)
Fresh lemon or lime juice
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a large saucepan set over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the onions and a big pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until the onions have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the celery and continue to cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes, until the onions are golden. Add the garlic, peppers, and Chili Today — cook for a couple more minutes.

Add the bay leaf, beans, tomatoes plus half a can of water and black pepper to taste. Stir to mix and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes, adding the cooked grain (if using) at the 15 minute mark. Add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to balance the flavor. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve hot, topped with onion pickles and any other garnishes that you like.

Garnish suggestions:

Maras chile flakes
Greek yogurt
Chopped, fresh cilantro
Freshly grated cheese
Sliced scallions
Roasted squash cubes
Tortilla chips
Avocado chunks

Smoky Pickled Onions

Makes 1 cup.

1 cup very thinly sliced red onion (or shallot) half-rings
1–2 tablespoons minced, fresh jalapeño pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons (organic cane) sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon oil, such as avocado or grape seed
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar, such as Champagne
Juice from ½ lime (or more to taste)
2 tablespoons roughly chopped, fresh cilantro
Pinch of pink peppercorns

Put the onions /shallots into a medium, non-reactive bowl. Add the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar and toss to coat the onion /shallots. Set aside for at least 15 minutes (up to an hour is OK).

Drain the onions /shallots in a strainer, then dump them back into the bowl, cover with cold water swishing them around for a few seconds before draining again. Repeat this “rinse” another time and after the onions /shallots have drained for a couple of minutes, pat them gently with a clean tea towel to remove excess water.

Wipe the bowl dry and return the onions /shallots to it. Add the remaining ingredients and mix them thoroughly. Let the pickles stand for another 10–15 minutes before serving (they’ll be ready to eat, but the flavors will blend if made and refrigerated a few hours ahead of serving).

These pickles will keep in the fridge, tightly covered, for a few days. Leftovers are good on sandwiches or added to potato salad or cole slaw.

Side

Brussels Sprouts Bravas with Pine Nuts

Serves 4 as a side.

Brussels sprouts are bold enough to pair nicely with assertive flavor of a not-too-spicy bravas-style sauce.

1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed
1/2 cup finely diced onion
2 tablespoons + 1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons Chili Today blend
2 teaspoon smoked paprika, divided
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
1 cup diced tomato with juices
1/4 cup minced parsley
1 teaspoon finely minced lemon peel*
Sea salt, to taste
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, divided
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

Cut the Brussels sprouts in half lengthwise. Set a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the sprouts plus 2 tablespoons of water. Cover the skillet, let the sprouts steam for 2–3 minutes. Remove the cover and let any remaining water evaporate before adding 2 tablespoons of oil and a pinch of salt. Shake the skillet to distribute the oil, then replace the cover and cook undisturbed for 3-4 minutes. Uncover and cook for another couple of minutes, stirring or shaking/tossing the sprouts, which will be tender (but not mushy) and have browned edges. Transfer the sprouts to a bowl, set aside.

Return the pan to the heat and add remaining 1/4 cup of oil and the onions, sauté for a minute or two. Add the Chili Today, garlic, 1 teaspoon of paprika, and a big pinch of salt, cook for about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes. Reduce the heat a little so that the sauce is simmering

Cook for about five minutes, stirring and breaking up the tomatoes — the sauce will thicken, darken, and become glossy.

Add the cooked sprouts to the skillet and stir gently to coat them with sauce. Fold in the parsley, lemon peel, and 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice. Take a taste to be sure that the sauce is well seasoned, add salt if needed.

Mound the saucy sprouts on a serving dish, sprinkle with the remaining lemon juice and paprika. Garnish by scattering the pinenuts over the top. Serve hot or at room temperature.

* Use a vegetable peeler to cut three, thin strips of peel, lengthwise from the lemon. (The strips should be mostly yellow with very little white pith on them.) Cut these strips in a very thin julienne, then cut the julienne crosswise into tiny bits. You should net about a

teaspoon of finely minced peel.

[sidebar]

Chili Today is a house-made chili powder. It’s a complex, yet subtle, combination of fruity ancho and smoky Urfa chilies ground with paprika, ginger, cinnamon, Mexican oregano, onion, cumin, garlic, and long pepper.