I Heart Smoked Paprika

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You’re scratching your head, trying to remember where you’ve seen paprika. Remember those deviled eggs your mom used to serve up at those hot summer picnics (probably not the best idea)? Yes. That was paprika, a most underrated spice, atop your fluffy yellow bedeviled egg. You probably don’t remember it having much taste. Well, that’s about to change! 

Paprika is a type of chili pepper, dried and ground and used as a spice. High in vitamin C, paprika helps you absorb iron and fight infections. Fresh-squeezed paprika juice, anyone?  (By the way, many fruits and veggies have as much or more vitamin C than oranges, but Sunkist and others are brilliant marketers and have sold generations on the idea that OJ is the best way to get your C. It’s not. Look into it!)  Capsaicin (don’t act like you’ve never heard of this), a phytochemical, is also present in peppers like our lovely paprika, and this is an anti-inflammatory (bye bye gout) and supposed to help with blood circulation for people like me whose feet are always freezing. 

Don’t get me wrong, I do like regular paprika — it is a beautiful shade of burnt orange and looks lovely sprinkled on all kinds of dishes. And then there are the eight varieties of Hungarian paprika, which apparently Hungarians put in all kinds of delicious dishes, especially their goulash. But then — cue celestial music– I found you, Smoked Paprika. Farmers in Spain’s La Vera region dry these amazing chilies over wood fires. Did you hear me?? Not only does this conjure up really romantic images, but smoked paprika adds a deep, woodsy depth to foods.  So, are you ready to try infusing this wondrous spice into some new recipes as you listen to Spanish flamenco and channel your inner chef?  I thought so!

Here are my recent two fave ways to use SP – enjoy! 

Red Velvet Mole Sauce with Black Beans (adapted from Appetite for Reduction)

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1/2 chopped red bell pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 t. chili powder
  • 2 t. oregano, dried
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. allspice
  • 1-2 t. smoked paprika (in a pinch, add 1/2 as much cumin with regular paprika)
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes (16 oz)
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 3 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup raisins (I like golden)
  • 1/4 cup (about 10) crushed corn chips (I like blue)
  • 1 T. almond or peanut butter (I prefer PB)
  • 1-2 T agave syrup
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 2 t. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 t. sea salt
  • 2 cans organic black beans, drained and rinsed
  • parsley or cilantro for garnish (optional)

1. Saute onions and peppers in olive oil over medium heat, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and all spices (through paprika), coat onions, cook another 1-2 minutes (don’t burn the garlic, y’all!).

2. Add tomatoes and broth, bring to a boil, then add raisins, chips, peanut butter, and simmer for 15 minutes.

3.  Get out your trusty immersion blender (these are awesome, you need one!) — or put this hot mess in the blender — and blend until smooth. Add sweetener, vinegar, salt, and beans.  Taste and adjust accordingly.

I love to put chunks of sweet potato on this (or other veggies) and serve over brown rice, coconut rice, or quinoa. A big salad would not be unwelcome, either.  It seems like a lot of ingredients, but really a quick and easy dish that makes you look like a pretty deep and complex person.

Smoked Paprika Hummus (inspired by Candle 79, = 3 cups of yummus!)

  • 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or 1 cup dried, but I’m not even going there)
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 t. cayenne pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 2 generous teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 t sea salt (yes, it really is better)
  • 1/2 t. pepper
  • 2 T. chopped flat leaf parsley (optional, but provides a few flecks of color)

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, stir it up!

2. Dump said bowl into food processor; pulse until mixed, add water to get to consistency you want – probably about 1/4 cup. Scrape down sides to make sure it’s looking perfect!

3. Chill for several hours or overnight, then place in that beautiful bowl you brought back from your last exotic vacation, sprinkle with more SP, and serve up to wild acclaim with red peppers, pita bread, roasted garlic, olives, carrots, crackers. . . endless possibilities!

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