The humble cucumber takes on passion and bite with sweet honey and acidic rice vinegar. Simplicity is the key to this side dish that makes the perfect companion for a spicy main.
3 Tbsp (45 mL) rice vinegar
3 Tbsp (45 mL) liquid honey
1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) sesame oil
1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) salt
1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) freshly ground pepper
2 large field or English cucumbers
3 Tbsp (45 mL) sesame seeds, toasted
To make dressing: in large bowl, whisk together vinegar and honey until honey dissolves. Add remaining
dressing ingredients and whisk until well combined. Refrigerate until cucumbers are ready to be dressed.
Carefully peel cucumbers in long strips to create alternating white and green stripes along their length. Slice cucumbers in half lengthwise and scrape away seeds with the round of a spoon.
Using a mandoline, vegetable peeler, or sharp knife, cut cucumbers into long, thin slices and place on paper towel to drain excess moisture. Gently pat tops with paper towel, and let sit.
Toast sesame seeds in dry frying pan over medium heat, stirring constantly until they begin to brown. Let cool.
Add cucumber slices and sesame seeds to dressing bowl and gently toss. Divide among plates and serve immediately.
Each serving contains: 87 calories; 1 g protein; 2 g total fat (0 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 16 g total carbohydrates (13 g sugars, 1 g fibre); 52 mg sodium
source: "Simple Spring Salads", alive #367, May 2013
These whimsical weeknight quesadillas offer a great excuse to break out the long-forgotten waffle iron. The smoky, tangy pepper sauce is the perfect sidekick for this dish, but it’s also wonderful when tossed with pasta, stuffed into sandwiches, and slathered on burgers. TIP : When assembling quesadillas, keep fillings centred 1/2 in (1.25 cm) from the edge of the tortilla so they don’t spill over. TIP : Chipotle chiles are dried, smoked jalapenos. Adobo is a slightly sweet red sauce. Put them together in a can and they become a versatile pantry staple to add deep smoky heat to sauces, dips, marinades, and soups. No waffle iron? Then make these quesadillas using this skillet method. Place 1 tortilla in skillet, preferably cast iron, and cook over medium heat until dark spots appear and bottom is crispy, about 1 1/2 minutes. Turn over and cook until crispy and darkened on the other side. Remove tortilla from skillet and replace with another tortilla. Cook until darkened and crispy on one side, flip, and top with stuffing ingredients. Place crispy tortilla on top, press down gently, cover pan, and cook for 1 minute, or until cheese has melted.
This Mexican-Mediterranean hybrid dish gleans its tempered kick from parched ancho chilies, the dried form of poblano peppers known for their smoky quality and sweet to moderate heat. It’s a fantastic saucy, and comforting, appetizer or meal on its own. Serve with crusty bread to sop up every last bit of the red sauce, or spoon over cooked grain. Chili choices Experiment with different dried Mexican chili peppers in your dishes. Instead of ancho, other options, each with different heat levels and flavour nuances, include pasilla, guajillo, or morita. Look for them in Latin markets and some supermarkets. For leftover lovers Because the flavours in this dish only deepen with resting time, it’s a definite candidate for serving as leftovers; simply reheat in the oven or microwave. Cheezy choices If possible, compare labels and look for lower-sodium feta options. A ball of fresh mozzarella or bocconcini are great alternatives, or try a block of medium-firm tofu and substitute agave syrup in place of the honey for a vegan-friendly dish.
A good option for both backyard barbecues and healthy snacking, this creamy dip benefits from a little spicy crunch, courtesy of quick-pickled peppers. If you want your dip to have a smoky edge, blend in a chipotle-flavoured salsa. Or forgo the salsa and, instead, blend in a couple tablespoons of tomato paste and a single canned chipotle chili pepper. Extras of the pickled peppers are an exciting topping for burgers, sandwiches, and tacos. TIP : When using prepared chili pepper products such as bottled salsas, examine the ingredient list for items you really don’t want or need, namely sugar and high amounts of sodium.
Treat yourself to a steak dinner, using tofu instead of meat. The tangy chili-spiked marinade does double-duty as a finishing sauce and transforms otherwise bland tofu into a dish that’ll sound your taste buds’ fire alarm. Bird’s eye pepper would be a good substitute for habanero if needed. Dousing the fire If you find yourself with a mouth on fire after taking a bite of a chili-infused dish, don’t try to douse it with water. Instead, reach for a glass of milk. The protein casein in dairy is known to help subdue the flame. Water won’t help nearly as much.