Most North Americans associate chile peppers with Mexican cuisine, but the cultivation of the flavorful pods originated south of the equator. Chile peppers are native to the Amazon jungle, with a history dating back more than 6,000 years. Capsaicin, which gives chiles their heat, has anti-inflammatory properties; it’s used to alleviate arthritis symptoms and chronic pain. Anti-inflammatory compounds prevent clots from forming and help prevent strokes and heart disease.
Choose It & Use It
All chiles contain capsaicin, but flavor and heat vary by type. Smaller peppers are generally spicier. Capsaicin is found in the inner membranes and seeds, so include or omit these in recipes to adjust heat. Avoid touching your face while preparing chiles, and wear gloves to protect your hands while working with hotter varieties.
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Poblano Chile–Cheese Enchiladas
Fresh poblano chiles and dried New Mexican chiles give these enchiladas a spicy, smoky flavor that’s not too hot. Serve with a fruity California Riesling or a hearty red wine such as Malbec from Argentina or Tempranillo from Spain.more
Corn, Chayote, and Green Chile Burritos
Steamy vegetables melt the cheese to just the right gooey consistency in this chile verde burrito. The star ingredient is chayote, a member of the gourd family. Chayote has a pear shape and a texture similar to zucchini.more
Vegetarian Posole Stew
Posole is a simple rustic stew commonly eaten year-round in the pueblos of New Mexico—and it is especially welcome in wintertime. Made from dried hominy corn, vegetables, spices and dried red chiles, the stew is usually cooked in large quantities. It is traditionally served with a variety of condiments—especially redmore