Chefs who are also vegetable gardeners, often advice to design a meal starting with the produce at hand, and build the menu around that, instead of seeing vegetables as the sidekick on the dinner plate. I had just harvested the first jalapeño peppers from my garden, and a few young onions, and was so excited with my bounty, that I decided to embrace that philosophy. One of the best ways to feature fresh peppers and green onions at the Mexican table, is to grill them. I washed my veggies, peeled the onions, and gave the peppers an extra prepping step. A chile toreado is a fresh spicy pepper gently squeezed in between the hands, and rolled back and forth; this technique presses the capsaicin in the pepper, making this oily chemical – responsible for hot spiciness – readily available to burn the tongue at the first bite (a little painful, but delicious). “Toreado” is a term from Spanish bullfights, to describe a bull being teased to make him angry, in this case a metaphor for the pepper being handled to become hotter. I brushed my chiles toreados and peeled onions with oil, and grilled them until the onions were charred and the peppers blistered all around. The other part of the meal was a “twice microwaved” potato. First, scrubbed potatoes were pricked with a toothpick and microwaved whole (3 minutes per potato, flipping halfway); they were then sliced lengthwise to be stuffed. I checked the fridge: I had finally got around to buy Tofurky™ chorizo*, and there were also mushrooms, which I sliced, and shredded Mozzarella cheese. I pan fried the chorizo, tucking in the grilled onions, to enhance colour on the onions, and flavour in the chorizo. I used the chorizo to stuff the potatoes, along with the sliced mushrooms, and shredded Mozzarella cheese. While the stuffed potatoes went back in the microwave for a couple of minutes to melt the cheese, I relied on the garden again and clipped some chives, to chop and sprinkle on top. The flavours in the potato, with grilled onions and a chile toreado on the side, sprinkled with lime juice and salt, were a superb combination. Allowing my garden harvest to clew me out the way to dinner worked great, and I did not miss a steak or any other “main” on the plate at all.
* About the Tofurky Chorizo – The package was attractive and the red mass peeking through the plastic window looked promising. Alas, my daughters and I (my husband is away for work) all thought that it was nice, but nothing to write home about. One issue with this brand is that everything tastes the same; it seems like they just change the colour of the crumbly chunks, and the label. Conclusion: It was good mixed with all the other flavours, but it would not be that tasty on its own.