Hot salads are fun to eat!

I used to write recipe articles and food poems for cuisine magazines a few years back, based on recipes I created or obtained from my wife Liane at the time.  Here’s one of those articles.  I don’t think it’s dated and the recipe is still a good one!

 

HOT AND SPICY ROUGHAGE: CAJUN CURRY SALAD

Although the stomach doctor may warn “no more peppery” cuisine because many of us have an intolerance to capsaicin (the chemical in peppers that binds with receptor cells in the mouth, sensitizing them to the flavor of food), the notion that hot spices ruin the palate and one’s sense of taste is fast becoming a thing of the past.  In fact, hot  peppers–and their distant cousins, onions and garlic–seem to be catching on everywhere and are a prescribed staple of many dietitians.

In nutritional value, a raw pepper has more Vitamin C than an orange or lemon.  Recent research has found that the odorless chemical capsaicin may reduce blood-clot formation.  As well, a cream comprising capsaicin is an effective treatment against shingles.  While all peppers contain
health-sustaining and fat-reducing properties, a great number are mild and rather pleasing to the taste buds, including most varieties of bell peppers and pimento.  In contrast, Indian bird’s eye and the Mexican Habanero top the scale of hotness and are somewhere in the register of Dante’s Inferno!

Hot peppers come in all shapes and sizes.  And in a multitude of colors including red, black, orange, blue and even purple. Not only rich in Vitamin C but having almost no calories, hot peppers get hotter and hotter as they ripen, can be dried and used later on, and are indispensable to fresh salsa, stir fried cuisine and countless Mexican dishes.  Besides Habanero, Serrano, Cayenne, Thai and Tabasco are considered very hot peppers.  Jalapeno, Chili, Ancho, Anaheim and Poblano not so hot and are far more friendly to the taste buds.  But classifying peppers can be an often times confusing task.  For several common names are often given to one kind of pepper, and new peppers are being discovered all the time and being sold at the local market.

Hot peppers consist of a number of substances.  Some that determine their heat composition are called Capsaicinoids, which potency and concentration influence heat range from very mild to extremely hot.  Since Capsaicinoids are not soluble in water but only in oils, fats and alcohol, guzzling water after consuming a very hot pepper will not stop the burning.  A cold beer or stiff drink is considered a traditional remedy.  But drinking milk or eating ice cream provides much better relief form chili burn.  Milk products contain a fat-loving substance called lipophilic which washes away fatty capsaicin similar to how detergent can clean away grease.  It is also good to remember when handling hot peppers to wear plastic gloves.  Or wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water before touching your face or eyes.

Hot skin from an encounter with hot peppers is not uncommon among hardcore pepper lovers.  For people who ingest a lot of capsaicin-rich foods can over time build a tolerance to the heat.  Expert chili pepper lovers are often called Chili-Heads or “CHs”; and such capsaicin aficionados actually become desensitized to even the hottest peppers.  Since capsaicin excites the nervous system into producing endorphins (a substance that reduces pain and affects emotions) a pleasant sensation of well-being or “natural high” is experienced, and can last for several hours.  Some even believe that eating hot peppers can enhance love making and is a natural aphrodisiac.   This natural high or endorphin lift can make spicy foods slightly addictive.  And an obsession for those willing to try most anything to spice up their love lives.  Perhaps the following is a hot consideration!

LOVE, HOT AND SPICY!

Some people regard their tongue and lower lip
As something delicate or even holy;
All because they believe avocado dip
Is more palatable than guacamole.

Well, some people think love is out fashion
And pleasing the heart buds is way too pricey.
Well, I say people who relish real passion
Are people who enjoy food…hot and spicy!

What is also amazing is the ability of capsaicin to alleviate pain, not only cause it!  A paradox perhaps, but exposure to capsaicin decreases sensitivity to pain.  Cayenne pepper can be found in a number of over the counter health products used as a counter irritant to treat arthritis and even neuropathy, a complication brought on by diabetes.

Cajun curry powder, the principle seasoning to the accompanying CAJUN CURRY SALAD recipe, is of course a hodgepodge of various hot peppers and, when dispensed in generous portions, should certainly please even the most discriminating of hot and spicy palates.  And, as in all delicacies Cajun, the curry powder is a necessary garnish in south-of-the-border dishes and will, when used even sparingly, delightfully pepper away the doldrums of any meaty or vegetarian commonplace entree!

In addition, you may consider this a marvelous conversation salad for those who enjoy their roughage hot and spicy.  And the CAJUN CURRY SALAD can be served as a main dish for lunch or as a warm weather supper.  And goes quite well with French bread and any domestic or imported dry wine.

CAJUN CURRY SALAD

For 4 servings, you will need:             Preparation:
1/2 lb. sharp cheese, grated                1) Smoothly mix together sharp
6 oz. of sliced salami                                 cheese, salami, bacon bits
1/2 cup of bacon bits                                 jalapenos and minced garlic
2 diced jalapenos                                       in a small bowl and place to
1 close garlic, minced                                one side
2 red onions, sliced
1 thin-skinned cucumber                    2) For dressing, mix vinegar,
2 lbs. romaine lettuce                               olive oil, black pepper,
1 lb. black olives, sliced                            salt, curry powder, clove
2 large tomatoes, sliced                            leaves and dry sherry in
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley               small bowl
3 tbs.. apple cider vinegar
4 tbs.. virgin olive oil                            Gradually add in first bowl
1 tbs.. black pepper                                of cheese, salami, etc.
2 tsp. salt                                                 until dressing is well
1 tbs.. Cajun Curry Powder                  mixed and slightly
1 tbs.. clove leaves                                 thickened
1 tbs.. dry sherry

Some tips:                                               3) In large salad bowl combine
Dressing should be made ahead             remaining ingredients and
to blend flavors and for best                    toss, then slowly pour in
results.  Blend with fork or                      dressing and mix until entire
shake vigorously                                        salad is lightly coated

4) Chill one hour and then
serve before mixing with
salad

For Two Servings: Half of the ingredients.  So smell, taste, eat…and get high!  The natural way, of course.