Roasted and Dehydrated End-of-Summer Chilies

Organic, fresh-from-the-farmers’ market roasted chilies going into the dehydrator!

One of the benefits of living in the desert southwest is the food local to the area.  Squash, tomatoes, chilies and peppers are but a few of our seasonal treats in the warm, long days of summer. And, as the summer comes to a close, the perfume of roasted peppers and chilies fills the air outside grocery stores and farmers’ markets. It is a scent that captivates, and you can’t help but follow your nose to its source!

The chilies are roasted and slightly charred, and this brings out a delightful depth of flavor that is a fantastic addition to fresh salsa, eggs, casseroles, crock pot dishes–just about anything savory! But the moist, fresh quality of the peppers begs for quick use, or freezing. I’ve done both for years, but last weekend I had the thought to bring them to my dehydrator for long-keeping into the fall and winter–and I’m so glad I did!

Freezing has worked OK in the past, as long as I’ve kept the freezer burn at bay. And I love eating them fresh, but there are only so many roasted chilies one can eat at a time! So, the dehydrator was a great solution to both concerns.

And it couldn’t be more simple!  Here are the directions:

  • Slice the chilies length-wise down the middle and pour off any excess liquid–Careful!  The heat on some of these chilies can really burn the skin and eyes–don’t get too much of the liquid on your skin, and rinse your hands immediately following–you might also consider wearing gloves.
  • Flatten each out, inside up, and give a little space around each for even drying
  • Place trays in the dehydrator and set to 145 degrees Fahrenheit (since these have essentially been cooked by the roasting, we’re not concerned with enzyme preservation)
  • Leave for at least 6 hours at this temperature, or until the chilies are completely dried out and leathery–you don’t want mold forming down the line from moisture
  • Place in an airtight container, releasing as much additional air as you can, and store in the refrigerator; if you have a vacuum sealer, you can place the peppers in a jar, vacuum seal and store in the pantry

The texture of these dehydrated, roasted chilies is dry and somewhat chewy–and the naturally occurring sugars will be concentrated in the flesh of the fruit.  This combination makes them impossible to not eat as-is, kind of like jerky (you could enhance the flavor even more by giving them a sprinkle of sea salt before dehydrating.)  They should keep through the fall and winter months, as long as no mold forms from rehydration in the atmosphere of the refrigerator.  Chop and add to sauces, or add to warm water to rehydrate and add to eggs, sauteed meat and vegetable dishes, or to cooking grains or beans.  This method will allow you to enjoy some of the fruits of summer in the short, cold days of winter!

Warm and dehydrated chilies

Into a jar they go, ready for cool-weather meals this fall

Pan-Baked Sweet Potato Chunks

Sweet and delicious baked sweet potato chunks

Sweet and delicious baked sweet potato chunks

 

Simple, delicious and nutritious.  Isn’t that such a terrific combination when you’re looking for something to prepare and enjoy?  Tossed in energy-promoting Medium Chain Triglyceride-rich unrefined coconut oil, these chunks will work whether you fall in the Paleo camp, or adhere to the GAPS Diet or just love delicious whole foods!

People often ask me how we manage to stay ahead of our food selections at home, given that we eat at home nearly every meal, and most of the foods are made from scratch.  Well, Rome was not built in a day, and I didn’t get into the groove of creating meals in this manner overnight!

Over the years, what I’ve learned is to lean on some pre-preparation, so that we can grab something quickly from the fridge, and reheat it quickly in the toaster oven, on the stovetop, toss it into the kids’ lunches or enjoy it as-is.  It’s the homemade version of fast food, and whether it’s oatmeal, pancakes, bread, beans or soup, having some easy-to-use components to a meal on hand makes the WHOLE process so much easier!

This recipe for pan-baked sweet potato chunks falls into this category perfectly.  Once prepared (and they are delicious straight from the oven!), they store really well in the refrigerator for the work- and school week, a true grab-n-go item.  And I have yet to get a refusal from the kids when they find these accompanying the rest of a meal!

In addition to the nutrition in the coconut oil, this recipe leans heavily on warming spices, specifically cinnamon, which has been shown in studies to help with maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.  And with natural sea or mineral salt, you will have a terrific food, full of trace minerals.

This recipe prepares quickly, bakes quickly, stores easily and tastes fantastic.  Good luck on keeping them for the duration of the week–you might consider doubling the recipe just in case they don’t make it through the first day!

Pan-Baked Sweet Potato Chunks

  • 3 pounds organic Sweet Potatoes and/or Yams, washed, ends trimmed and coarsely cut into rounds approximately 1″ thick
  • 1/2 cup organic Unrefined Coconut Oil, melted
  • 3 tablespoons organic Pumpkin Pie Spice blend or 1 tablespoon Ground Cinnamon, 1/2 tablespoon ground Nutmeg, 1 teaspoon Allspice and 1 teaspoon dried Ginger
  • 2-3 teaspoons Celtic Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a large bowl, sprinkle the spices and salt over the sweet potato chunks and toss to incorporate.  Drizzle the coconut oil over the dressed sweet potato chunks and toss again, insuring that the oil coats all surfaces.  Spread out on a large cookie sheet. so that there is no overlap of the chunks.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 40 minutes, then move to the top rack  and roast on the Low Roast setting for an 2-3 additional minutes, or until the tops of the chunks begin to caramelize (make sure you don’t go too long here, or that the heat is too high, lest the oil begin to smoke.)

Remove from the oven and enjoy immediately, or allow to cool and store in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.  Reheats perfectly in the toaster oven or on the stove top.

Chopping sweet potatoes

Chopping sweet potatoes

Pouring on coconut oil over sweet potatoes

Pouring on coconut oil over sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes dressed and ready to bake

Sweet potatoes dressed and ready to bake

How we get ready for the week ahead--sweet potato chunks and freshly-baked water kefir bread

How we get ready for the week ahead–sweet potato chunks and freshly-baked water kefir bread

Rich and delicious sweet potato chunks--notice the salt chunks.  YUM!

Rich and delicious sweet potato chunks–notice the salt grains. YUM!

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