Jack, a big fan of spicy food, told me these chilies were one of the most delicious things he'd eaten on his trip to Italy, but when he tried to get me to try one I was like heck no.
"You don't know what you're missing out on," he said. Thinking they were super spicy, I dared him to eat a whole chili. When he easily downed it, I naturally dared him to keep going. Four chilies in with no smoke coming out of his ears made me wonder just how dangerously spicy these chilies actually were so I tried a tiny bite of one.
Calabrian chilies are infused with oil and salt, making them taste somewhat similar to olives but with a bit of a vinegary, smokey taste. Jack describes them as a cross between a chili and a caper. Their heat is strong but definitely not over the top. That night at dinner, I became so obsessed with them I ate chili after chili. Whole. On their own. Straight out of the jar. I couldn't get enough. This coming from a self proclaimed hater of all spicy food.
Heat is all relative, so I'm not suggesting you buy a jar and start downing chili after chili (though that would be pretty awesome). The perfect place to start is with this recipe for Roasted Cauliflower and Israeli Couscous with chopped Calabrian chilies and a bit of the chili oil. You can modify the amount of chilies and oil you add to suit your liking but fair warning, if you think you don't like spicy food, that's all about to change.
*Calabrian Chilies can be a bit difficult to find, so I suggest purchasing them here on Amazon.
Ingredients (Serves 4):
- 1/2 head cauliflower florets
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 1/3 cups Israeli couscous
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for dizzling
- 1 3/4 cups boiling water
- 6 Calabrian chilies, roughly chopped (or more/less) --> Buy these here on Amazon
- 1 tablespoon Calabrian chili oil (or more/less)
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped and lightly packed
- 1 lemon
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lay cauliflower florets out on a baking sheet, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Roast cauliflower in the oven for about 15 minuets.
2. Saute couscous with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until it's lightly browned (about 5 minutes). Slowly add the boiling water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cover. Simmer for 12 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
3. In a large bowl, stir together cauliflower, couscous, chili peppers, chili oil, parsley and the juice of half the lemon. Divide into bowls and squeeze remaining lemon juice on top.