People seem to have a love-hate relationship with spicy foods. Some folks can’t get enough, others avoid it like it’s the plague. In the past, I’ve been torn about how I feel about it myself. I grew up with a few health problems which prohibited me from experimenting with such foods.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I began to kick things up a bit. Since then, I’ve become best buddies with red pepper flakes and I always have a bottle of sriracha sauce on hand in the fridge. I’ve found great joy in learning how to play with chiles in a way that doesn’t overpower the other ingredients being used. It’s a complicated balancing act, for sure.
What I’ve come to learn is this: when it’s done right, adding some spice to a dish can be refreshing and can turn a rather ordinary meal into a visceral experience.
I came up with this quick vegetarian chili recipe a few weeks ago when we were a bit limited on ingredients in the fridge. There is always a container or two of tofu tucked away and the cabinet is stocked with canned tomatoes and beans to take out during desperate times like these. The key component here, though, is the pickled jalapenos. They pack a punch, but, due to their preparation, have mellowed out slightly.
A lot of my weeknight dinners are similar to this recipe. It’s such a pleasure to throw everything into a big pot, set the burner to simmer, and let it all come together. There’s not a whole lot of production, which, after a long day at work, nobody wants to do.