Spicy Chickpea & Harissa Stew

We love soups and stews and get giddy when the temperature starts to get cooler and it is acceptable to eat soup most meals of the week. This recipe incorporates all of our favorite Middle Eastern ingredients into one hearty bowl. You can easily make this vegetarian or vegan by eliminating the shrimp and feta cheese without compromising the flavor. For those unfamiliar with harissa, harissa is a Moroccan pasta made with garlic, red pepper and oil. You can find this is most supermarkets or online through Thrive Market and Amazon.

Spicy Chickpea and Harissa Stew
Makes: 4 servings 
Prep Time: 15 minutes     Total Time: 45 minutes 

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 2 cans chickpea, drained 
  • 3 tbs harissa paste
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp salt 
  • 28 oz can of tomato sauce 
  • 28 oz water (reuse the can!)
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined 

Optional Toppings:

  • feta
  • parsley or cilantro
  • pita

Directions 

  1. In a soup pot, turn the heat to medium and add the olive oil. Once hot, add the shallot and garlic and saute for 5 minutes. 
  2. Add the chickpeas, harissa, cumin and salt and saute for 2-3 minutes until the chickpeas are coated with all of the spices. If you like your food extra spicy, you can bump up the harissa from 3 to 4 tablespoons. 
  3. Add the tomato sauce and use the same can to add the water. This will help ensure you get all of the tomato juice out! 
  4. Bring the stew up to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. 
  5. Bring the heat back up to high and add the shrimp. Put the cover on the pot and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until the shrimp are completely cooked through. 
  6. Serve hot in a bowl and top with feta cheese, parsley and a side of your favorite pita! 

Spicy Turkey Burgers

We love turkey burgers and during these hot summer months, count them as one of our go-to lunch and dinner recipes. One of the problems we have had with turkey burgers in the past is that the meat itself tends to dry out really quickly, particularly on the grill. To combat this we have made a meat blend of ground turkey and chicken sausage. The chicken sausage adds additional fat to the meat mixture which helps retain the juiciness that we crave! We topped these burgers with our Everything Bagel Coleslaw, but you can easily swap and add your favorite toppings.

Spicy Turkey Burgers

Makes: 6 servings

Prep Time: 5 minutes Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 lb spicy Italian chicken sausage, casings removed
  • 1 can diced green chiles
  • 6 hamburger buns
  • Everything Bagel Coleslaw, prepared from recipe here

Directions:

  1. Combine the turkey, chicken sausage and green chiles in a large mixing bowl. Using your hands or a spoon, mix the meat and chiles together until everything is thoroughly combined. Form the mixture into 6 patties.
  2. With your grill set to high, grill the turkey burgers until the meat is cooked completely through – about 6 minutes per side. Add the hamburger buns to the grill to toast up with about 1-2 minutes remaining on the burgers.
  3. Serve immediately topped with a hearty scoop of coleslaw and add any additional burger toppings of your choice!

Spicy Watermelon Salad

We love the summertime and the food possibilities when we are in full blown fruit season. There is no better snack than a piece of watermelon or mango topped with a hearty pour of Tajin- a Mexican chili lime spice mix. You can find Tajin at most grocery stores and Trader Joe’s makes a comparable product as well. The heat from the chili powder, lime, and salt makes the fruit taste sweeter and come alive. We used that summer snack as inspiration to make this Spicy Watermelon Salad. It is a sweet and savory fruit salad that makes a great side dish for any summer party or your Memorial Day menu this weekend. 

Spicy Watermelon Salad 
Makes: 4 servings as a side dish 
Prep Time: 15 minutes     Total Time: 15 minutes 

Ingredients For the Salad: 

  • 1 mini watermelon (about 3 lbs before carving)
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced 
  • 1/2 cup queso fresco, crumbled 
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped 

Ingredients For the Dressing: 

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp chili powder depending on your crowd 
  • juice and zest of one lime  
  • 1 tbs honey 
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Directions: 

  1. Make the dressing for the salad. Whisk together the olive oil, chili powder, lime zest and juice, and honey in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside. 
  2. Carve the watermelon so that the watermelon is in large, bite-sized pieces. We have a quick tutorial for this on our Instagram highlights, linked here. Put the watermelon and sliced red onion in a large bowl and cover with the dressing. Gently toss to coat. The two ingredients can easily sit in the dressing for a bit to marinate if you need to make this dish in advance. Just drain some of the excess liquid before serving. 
  3. Finish the salad by layering the watermelon with red onion, queso fresco, and cilantro in a serving dish. Season to taste with salt, pepper, or additional lime before serving. 

Spicy Green Tahini Sauce

We. Love. This. Sauce. We sometimes forget in everyday cooking how transformative a great sauce can be. Most high end restaurants have a saucier solely responsible for a restaurant’s sauces, dressings, and gravies; that is how important they are. We are trying to introduce a few game-changing sauces that will help you transform a basic dinner recipe. Today’s sauce is Spicy Green Tahini Sauce- a rich and creamy sauce made fresh and bright with herbs, lemon juice, and a jalapeno. We love this sauce on chicken kabobs but it also would be an excellent accompaniment to grilled vegetables, skirt steak, or as a dipping sauce on a veggie tray. It comes together in just a few minutes and livens up anything you add it to. 

Spicy Green Tahini Sauce 
Makes: 4 servings 
Total Time: 5 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 1/3 cup tahini 
  • juice and zest of 1/2 lemon 
  • 1 clove garlic 
  • 1/2 cup packed parsley or cilantro 
  • 1 jalapeno, stem and seeds removed 
  • 2 tbs olive oil 
  • up to 3 tbs water 
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Directions: 

  1. Put the first six ingredients (tahini – olive oil) in a blender. Blend until smooth. Add as much as 3 tbs of water to the sauce to get it to a pourable consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper to serve. 

Mapo Tofu

We have been seeing a ton of recipes online lately for Mapo Tofu. We have our go-to favorite place in Denver for getting very good, traditional Sichuan cuisine (Shanghai Kitchen) but had not tried Mapo Tofu until recently. We ordered it, immediately fell in love, and knew we wanted to recreate it at home. This dish is rich, spicy and will warm you up any night for dinner. We prefer to serve this with rice and a green veggie on the side for an easy weeknight dinner.

Mapo Tofu
Makes: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 inches fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1-2 tsp Chinese red pepper depending on your spice preference
  • 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 tbs red bean paste
  • 2 tbs black vinegar
  • 1 lb soft tofu, cubed

Instructions:

  1. Heat a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger and ground pork. You do not need to add oil as the fat from the pork will melt and add liquid to the pan. Sauté for 6-8 minutes until the pork is cooked completely through.
  2. Add the Chinese red pepper, peppercorns, red bean paste and black vinegar. Mix thoroughly to combine the ingredients. Add the tofu, reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes. Be sure the tofu is heated throughout.
  3. Serve over rice, hot, and enjoy!

Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup

One of our favorite local restaurants for Chinese food is Shanghai Kitchen. For the untrained, Shanghai Kitchen is a good, standard Chinese restaurant. However, what most people don’t know is that Shanghai Kitchen actually has two different menus – one being filled with authentic Shanghainese cuisine. Throughout the years we have made friends with the restaurant staff and they have exposed us to new, amazing dishes. One of those dishes is the beef in chili oil. Our obsession with this dish inspired us to figure out how we can make new dishes within that same flavor profile. After experimenting a bit, we have come up with this spicy chicken noodle soup. Full of flavor and heat, this soup will warm you up on any cold night. We recommend making it in big batches as one bowl simply won’t be enough.

Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup

Makes: 4 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 6 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 large chicken thighs
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups chili oil
  • 1 lb noodles (we used shells for this recipe but prefer udon)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • scallions for garnish, optional

Directions:

  1. Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil to the pan along with the onion, carrots, and celery. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, or until the vegetables are starting to caramelize. Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes.
  2. Season the chicken thighs well with salt and pepper on both sides. Add the chicken thighs to the pan, creating room in the pan so that they have direct contact with the bottom of the pan. Cook for 4 minutes per side so that the chicken starts to brown and retains its juices.
  3. Add the chili oil and chicken stock to the pot. Bring the liquids up to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the chicken thighs from the pot. Shred them with a fork or dice them with a knife and return the chicken back to the soup. Cook another 10 minutes covered and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. While the soup is in it’s final 10 minutes of cooking, bring a second pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles of your choice and cook according to package directions. Drain the noodles and add them to the soup. If you aren’t planning to eat the soup in one sitting, add the drained noodles to each serving of soup and top with chicken and broth. This will prevent the noodles from getting soggy if you eat the soup over the course of a few days. Top with chopped scallions before serving, if desired.

Spicy Shishito Peppers

Ordering shishito peppers at restaurants is one of our go-to appetizers. They are healthy and adapt to almost any flavor profile. One of our favorite reasons to eat them is we have a little bit of fun with the Russian Roulette game of “who is going to eat the crazy hot pepper?” For those unfamiliar, shishito peppers derive from Asia. They are about finger width and length and every one in eight peppers is spicy.

We have been so excited to see shishitos popping up at grocery stores. We have found them at Trader Joes and our regular grocery store, King Soopers. We have made a super simple preparation and have included our homemade spicy chili oil. These make a perfect snack or appetizer if you aren’t afraid of a little heat!


Spicy Shishito Peppers

Makes: 4 appetizer servings

Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of shishito peppers (about 30 peppers)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 inches ginger, chopped
  • 4 tbs chili oil

Directions:

  1. Add the chili oil, garlic and ginger to a pan over medium heat. Sauté the garlic and ginger for 2-3 minutes. You want it to cook, but not get brown.
  2. Add the shishito peppers to the pan and sauté for 10 minutes. It is ok if the shishito peppers start to brown. Keep stirring them throughout the cooking process so that they cook evenly on all sides. Serve hot and top with a little bit of salt.

Homemade Chili Oil

We have said it about 1000 times already but we absolutely love Asian food. One of our favorite ways to eat dumplings, pot stickers, noodles and just about anything, Asian or not, is to add chili oil. It is a condiment that we immediately request when we sit down to eat. With this in mind, we experimented a bit to create our own chili oil that we could have on hand in the kitchen to spice up our recipes.

This recipe is a bit involved in terms of ingredients. You are going to need a lot of seasonings and to execute this carefully so as to not get burned. But don’t be intimidated! We will walk you through this step by step. The best part is, once you make this recipe, you will have enough to hold you over for a while. Maybe….


Homemade Chili Oil

Makes: 1.5 cups of chili oil

Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 star anise
  • 4 tbs Chinese chili powder (see here)
  • 2 tbs chili powder
  • 1 tbs cayenne powder
  • 1 tbs Chinese 5 spice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 Thai chilies
  • 1 1/2 cups canola oil

Directions:

  1. Combine all seasonings (star anise – Thai chilies) in an oven proof dish. You will want to be sure that this dish is deep enough enough room for the 1.5 cups of oil plus an inch or two on top.
  2. In a pan, heat the canola oil. Once hot, add the garlic. You will want the garlic to begin to fry but not burn – roughly one minute. Turn off the heat on the pan.
  3. Very carefully (over your sink) pour the hot oil into the dish with the seasonings. Once the oil is added, the seasonings will begin to boil. This is what you want! Let the seasonings boil and do their thing for a few minutes while the oil cools.
  4. When the oil cools completely, store in a mason jar or other air proof container. To keep it lasting longer, keep it in the refrigerator.
  5. Use on top of anything. Dumplings, noodles, tacos, eggs… the sky is the limit!

Semi-Homemade Massaman Curry

When Tuck’s mom and dad came home from Thailand, we were gifted with the ultimate arrangement of spices and curry mixes to try. We have loved making them these past few months and have found that modifying this dish is super easy and a fun way to experiment in the kitchen. Because we love spicy, we have added spicy Thai chilies to give the curry a kick. Feel free to incorporate vegetables that you have on hand and approach to make this a complete meal. We know that you probably won’t be able to find the exact packets that we used from Thailand but have included a link to something similar that you can purchase. Most mainstream grocery stores will have curry packets in the Asian aisle as well.

Semi-Homemade Massaman Curry

Makes: 4 servings

Prep Time: 25 minutes Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet Massaman curry mix (similar here)
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 package boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into strips
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 – 10 thai chilis
  • chopped green onion (optional)
  • 3 -4 cups rice or 1 package thai rice noodles

Directions:

  1. Add the curry mix and 1/2 of the can of coconut milk to a pan and bring to a boil. Be sure to stir thoroughly until the mix is fully incorporated into the coconut milk.
  2. Add the chicken and onion and cook for 5 minutes. The chicken does not need to be fully cooked through.
  3. Add the water and Thai chilis and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. Keep the lid off the pan so that some of the water can evaporate.
  4. While the curry in cooking, cook the rice or noodles according to the package directions.
  5. Serve the curry over rice and noodles, hot. Add the green onions on top for garnish.