Balsam jelly? We’ve seen a few Canadian ingredients on Chopped Canada so far this season – like P.E.I. potatoes – but this fir-flavoured jelly takes the Great White North cake for me. Sadly, I wasn’t able to track any down (which means you’d probably have trouble, too), so it was onto Plan B: serrano peppers.

I am not too well-versed in the different heat levels and properties of peppers. I definitely know that green bell peppers are my least favourite vegetable, being boringly mild, and that jalapenos are always a welcome addition to many dishes I’ll make. However, outside of that, you won’t find much in terms of peppers in my kitchen.
Most grocery stores stock serrano peppers and you’ll find them in either green or red. The red serrano is a more mature pepper and packs a lot more heat, while the green ‘younger’ pepper still has a bit of a burn, but is much kinder to your taste buds. As much as I love a touch of fire in my food, I don’t need my mouth aflame, so we’re sticking with the green guys today.

Roasting any kind of pepper will bring out its sweetness and serranos are no different. This ‘relish’ (not technically a proper relish, but I do love to mess with culinary terms on occasion) sees both scallions and serranos roasted and then minced up into a slightly spicy, sweet and tangy topping that is perfect for anything from roasted vegetables to a barbecued steak. You can even try mixing it with some olive oil and using it as a vinaigrette on a green salad.

In hindsight, I probably did not have to add chili flakes to this recipe. But what can I say, I’m a glutton for (spicy) punishment.

Roasted Serrano Pepper and Almond ‘Relish’

Yields 1 ¾ cups relish
Total cook time: 20 minutes plus 1 hour chill time

1 bunch scallions
3 green or red serrano peppers, halved, seeds removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup roasted almonds
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon chili flakes
½ teaspoon cinnamon
salt and pepper, to taste


1.    Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
2.    Lay out scallions and serranos on a prepared baking sheet, drizzle with oil, season liberally with salt and pepper and let roast in the oven for 15 minutes.
3.    Next, give the almonds a rough chop with a knife or toss into a food processor and pulse a few times.
4.    Transfer to a medium bowl with remaining ingredients and stir until combined.
5.    Remove vegetables from oven, let cool slightly and give them a fine chop.
6.    Add chopped scallions and serranos to bowl and stir well to incorporate.
7.    Season to taste with salt and pepper and let chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving.



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