If you like a bit of spice, bright green serrano chiles make a zippy addition to any savory recipe. Typically smaller but hotter than jalapeños, these slender, slightly pointy peppers should look smooth and dry. (On the vine, they turn red and then yellow upon further ripening.)
Use as you would any fresh chile pepper. If you have sensitive skin, wear rubber gloves, and be careful not to touch your eyes or nose after handling. Most of chiles’ heat, from the healthy compound capsaicin, is concentrated in the seeds and white membranes, so remove or retain depending on preference.
Chop serranos and add to any bottled or fresh salsa, guacamole, or fruit-based condiment, such as mango or pineapple salsa. (For a color contrast, add chopped, fiery red Fresno chiles, too.) To tame serranos’ heat a bit, sauté in olive oil or butter until tender. Starches and fats neutralize chiles’ heat, so fold into omelets with sour cream, stir into chili con carne with cheddar cheese, or add to bread dough or muffin batter with chopped olives.