Pasta with pepper stalk powder
As I said in my previous post, you can get something tasty even from pepper stalks. Your best ally, just as it is the case with many of my recipes, is the dehydrator. In case you have a garden or a balcony, summertime is the perfect season for drying fruits and vegetables in the sun; otherwise, my suggestion is to buy a good dehydrator – even better, a dehydrator equipped with controls to adjust the temperature and the duration of the drying.
To prepare the powder, keep aside the usually discarded parts of peppers – stalks, seeds, white internal membranes. If you’re only cooking a few peppers at a time, just keep aside the stalks, freeze them and wait until you have collected enough of them (there’s no minimum quantity, though). Now, all you have to do is dry your leftovers until they’re completely dehydrated. To hasten the drying, you can cut the stalks roughly.
If you’re planning to dry them in the sun, just lay them on a sieve and expose them to sunlight. Depending on the solar radiation, it might take up to a couple of days. Just remember to bring the sieve inside during the night.
If you’re using the dehydrator, lay the stalks on the racks. At 40 degrees C, the drying will take eight hours; at 60 degrees C, you’ll need approximately six hours. You can even avoid drying the stalks completely, leaving them slightly damp – in this case, though, they will deteriorate earlier.
At these temperatures, the energy consumption is much lower than that of a regular oven. Furthermore, since dehydrated products can be stored for several months at room temperature, this is not just a useful preservation technique – it is also an excellent way to avoid food waste.
Once the stalks and the other discarded parts from the peppers are dehydrated, grind them to obtain a thin powder. Vacuum pack the powder or keep it inside glass jars and use it like a spice to season your dishes, salads etc… It’s delicious!
Whenever I prepare this powder, I take the opportunity to dry some fruits, cherry tomatoes, herbs etc… (see picture: low-heat setting with my Tre Spade dehydrator).
Here’s a super easy recipe you can try whenever you’re in a hurry or you find yourself ravenously hungry in front of an empty fridge – something which happens quite often when you’re off to or back from your holidays.
Pasta with pepper stalk powder (serves 4)
360 g pasta (of your favourite kind)
2 tbs pepper stalk powder (see explanation above)
1 garlic clove
1 pinch chilli
1 pinch turmeric
Toasted pine nuts
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper
Boil the pasta in abundant salted water. In the meantime, heat 2 tbs oil in a pan and add the stalk powder, the garlic clove and the other spices. When the pasta is al dente, drain it and keep the cooking water aside for other uses (soups, sauces etc…). Sauté the pasta in the pan with the other ingredients, add the pine nuts and serve.