The spicy peppers hailing from the Italian region of Calabria are known around the world for their smoky flavor and medium-spicy heat. They’re a staple in southern Mediterranean cuisine and are available dried, pickled, or preserved in olive oil.
In America, a few restaurants are starting to use them in their menus, including Aita in Brooklyn and Barbuto in Manhattan. The squid ink pasta at Barbuto is topped with fresh chiles and lemon to add a kick to the dish.
If you can’t find Calabrian chilis in your local grocery store, it can be frustrating. But you don’t have to give up on spicing up your recipes!
Some substitutes for Calabrian chilis include red chili flakes, Serrano pepper, and Ahaheim pepper. These options are easy to come by and can work well in recipes that call for a pepper with a similar flavor to Calabrian chilis.
Other options are aioli and hot sauce. Aioli can be used as a spread for sandwiches, burgers and other dishes, and hot sauce can be added to soups, stews, or other spicy foods.
The smoky peppers can also be made into a paste with some vinegar, salt and oil for a condiment that can be added to salads, pizza, pasta and other dishes. Or they can be used to make a marinade for grilled chicken.
If you’re looking for a great way to get the taste of Calabrian chilis into your dishes without having to deal with the hassle of finding them yourself, we recommend this Signature Tomato Garlic and Calabrian Chile Spread from Good & Gather(tm). Imported from Italy, this spread adds an extra level of spiciness to sandwiches, burgers and other dishes.