And just because I love chillies, here is a classic chilli-based recipe, which just happens to be vegetarian. Tough I do like my meat, I think it's good to balance that out every now and then with a good vegetarian recipe.
This is a great evening meal recipe as it's easy and quick to prepare, is healthy and looks great when you serve it to someone else.
The chillies also give this dish the spicy kick or edge that personally I like. However, like all foods with a fair amount of fat to them (think yoghurt or sour cream) the Parmesan cheese helps to temper the full heat of the chilli (do not skimp on the Parmesan cheese when you serve this!).
All in all, this is one of my standard fallback recipes as I typically always have the ingredients in my fridge and larder.
Spaghetti with Chilli and Courgettes RecipeServes: 4
Ingredients:400g (1 lb, scant) spaghetti
90ml (6 tbsp) olive oil
100g (4 oz) breadcrumbs
8 small or baby courgettes (zucchini), cut into julienne strips
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 small red chillies, finely chopped
finely-grated Parmesan cheese, to serve
Method:Bring a pan of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook according to the packet instructions (about 8 minutes). When the pasta is al dente, drain and return to the pan to keep warm.
In the meantime, place a large frying pan over medium heat. Add half the olive oil, swirling the pan to coat then add the breadcrumbs. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the bread is nicely and evenly browned. Remove from the pan and turn onto a plate.
Add the remaining oil to the pan, stir in the courgettes and cook over high heat for 5 minutes, stirring often, or until the courgette pieces are golden brown and beginning to crisp.
Stir in the garlic and chillies and continue cooking for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the cooked pasta and the breadcrumbs to the pan then toss to coat.
Serve immediately, garnished by freshly-grated Parmesan cheese.
As an aside and an interesting fact, chilli (hot pepper or chili) is one of the few spices from the new world to have gained acceptance and acclaim world wide (vanilla and allspice are the other two). Indeed, from its discovery by Europeans it only took chillies 60 years to be spread around the globe.
If you would like to know more about how chillies conquered the world, here is an interesting article on the global spread of chillies from the New World to the Old Word.