We're already pulling out of the cold spell here in Oaxaca (if you can even really call it that - we're spoiled enough to deem 50 degrees a cold spell), and it's time to celebrate with one of those in-between foods that combines the brightness of summer with the heartiness of winter. These peppers work snuggled in front of a fireplace with a glass of wine or taking in the sun on the patio with a cold beer.
The peppers shine on their own, but the side dishes make this a real meal. The chayotes with cream and bacon are much lighter than they sound. Chayote on it's own has a faint, soft squash flavor, and this recipe calls for just a bit of cream to etch out that softness. The bacon, of course, adds kick. Who could turn down crumpled bacon on the top of anything? And since bacon works particularly well with vaguely sweet flavors (remember getting your bacon all mixed up with your maple syrup as a kid?) it pairs perfectly with chayote.
The tomatoes, meanwhile, are tossed gently in olive oil and dried herbs (substitute basil if you can find some good fresh stuff) and add a simple, straightforward zing to the meal. The combo means you've got creamy squash, smoky peppers, and juicy tomatoes all playing each other out on your tongue. Yum, I say. To really flesh it all out, slice up some ripe avocado and throw a crunchy, fresh baguette into the mix. Chipotle-Parmesan Peppers
4 large red peppers
1 medium red onion, peeled and chopped coarsely
1 can chipotles in adobo sauce
1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Roast red peppers in broiler 5-10 minutes until skins are black and peeling. Alternatively, you can do this stovetop in a skillet, as I did, but it takes much longer (15-20 minutes) and you'll have to be prepared to fill your kitchen with smokiness.
Set peppers aside to cool. Beat eggs in a medium sized bowl. Add Parmesan. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Saute onion in olive oil until translucent. Add egg/cheese mixture. Scramble the eggs, cheese and onion gently with a spatula. When the eggs start getting firm, add chipotles. I add a whole can, but then again, I'm a sucker for spicy. If you're sensitive to spice, definitely take it easy on the chipotles. 1 or 2 can add lots of kick. Taste test as you add to get a feel for how spicy the eggs are. You can also leave out the whole chiles and just add the adobe sauce for flavor.
Once the eggs are fluffy and cooked through, turn off the stove and set aside. Peel the cooled peppers and cut in half. Stuff each half with the egg mixture. Garnish with avocado slices if desired.Chayotes With Bacon and Cream
6 medium chayotes
1/4 cup cream
5 slices bacon, fried until very crispy and then crumbled into bits
salt and pepper to taste
Steam chayotes until soft. Alternatively, boil them for thirty minutes to an hour (it depends on the type of chayote you find - some take much longer than others as they have thicker skins) until cooked through. Cool them, then peel them. Slice them into thick wedges. Do not cut out the pit! Many people consider that to be the best, most flavorful part of the chayote. It's got a subtle nutty flavor.
In a large bowl, gently toss the chayotes with the cream and salt and pepper as desired. Transfer them into a serving bowl and sprinkle the bacon bits on top. Simple Tomato Salad
5 large ripe tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil (add more or less to taste)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon thick black pepper
Salt to taste
Slice tomatoes into thick wedges. It's ok if they're juicy - add the juices to the salad. Place the tomatoes in a large bowl and toss with the olive oil, oregano, thyme, pepper, and salt to taste. Serve in small individual salad bowls.
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