Hot Chili Relish

garden gift basketYesterday, when I left to walk the dogs, I found this lovely gift basket outside my door! It’s a cook’s dream: vine ripe tomatoes, crisp green beans, fresh herbs with a bottle of home-made herbes de provence tucked underneath, and a handful of blazing hot habaneros.

This wonderful basket is from Jesse, the mother of my upstairs neighbor who I caught up with on the side walk. Jesse has a wonderful garden that is just bursting with chilies, super hot ones at that.

“I popped one whole chili in my mouth before I realized how hot they were” she said, noticing her eyes glazing over just talking about it — and no wonder, habaneros are one of the hottest chilies, about 10 times hotter than a jalapeño on the Scoville scale.

So this afternoon for lunch, I’ll cook up those chilies with some sweet onions for a hot and savory relish I can enjoy throughout the week.

Hot Chili Relish

hot chili relishMakes 1 cup hot chili relish

8 habanero chilies, seeds removed, thinly sliced
1/2 large sweet yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the habaneros and onions. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often until the chilies and onions begin to brown. Reduce the heat to low and add the tomatoes and salt. Cook about 1 minute more, stirring often until the tomatoes start to soften. Add 1/4 cup of water and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook 3 to 4 minutes more until the mixture thickens and the liquid reduces to form a thick sauce. Serve warm on top of your favorite Mexican dish, on top of casseroles or even inside grill cheese.

Are you sure you take the heat?

Are you sure you take the heat? Try these tips for handling chilies:

1. Use gloves for sensitive hands. Chili juice can get under your fingernails and burn for up to 4 hours.

2. When cooking with hot chilies, always have proper ventilation in the kitchen. Open windows and turn on vent fans as capsaicin, the active ingredient in chilies, takes to the air when it hits a hot surface.

3. Don’t plan an important phone call while you’re eating or cooking these hotties, you might find it hard when the heat is airborne.

4. If you can stand the heat, good news for your figure! Eating hot chilies helps you to burn more calories, and can have calorie burning power even for hours after you eat them. Studies say you can burn up to 100 extra calories a day.

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