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Sweet and Spicy Recipes That Won't Light Your Mouth on Fire

Sweet Meets Heat

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The sweet-heat dynamic duo has roots in cuisines around the world. Heat intensifies the flavors of sweet ingredients, while sugars tame spicy foods and highlight their fruity notes. Here, perfect pairings and the infinite ways you can play, for dishes you'll want to create all summer... make that all year. (Bonus: Spicy foods are great for weight loss!)

Photo: Beth Galton

Jalapeño, Three Pea, and Shrimp Stir-Fry

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Many fresh chiles are so hot that their flavor gets blunted by the burn. But vegetables that are high in natural sugars have an amazing taming effect. Pair the two and suddenly chiles become brighter, less fiery—you can actually taste the layers of flavors. Peas, sweet bell peppers, and zucchini are excellent springtime and summertime matches, and butternut squash and root veggies like beets, rutabagas, and parsnips work perfectly in the fall and winter. This shrimp dish uses not one but three types of peas to tone down the jalapeño heat.

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Photo: Beth Galton

Grilled Spicy Teriyaki Salmon

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Give chile flakes a quick soak in maple, and they'll soften while infusing the syrup with their heat. Even though the two share a rustic, from-the-earth flavor, they taste modern and complex when swirled together. We swear, this simple pairing will become your go-to condiment year-round. Salmon, like in this recipe, makes the perfect base. (Then try these other make-at-home sauces that blend unexpected flavors.)

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Photo: Beth Galton

Strawberry, Mango, and Wax Bean Salad with Chile Vinaigrette

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When whole chiles are dried, they develop a richness and a depth that bring out a fruity sweetness. As payback, the fruit brightens the chiles' earthy intensity. Tart-sweet fruits like pineapples, raspberries, apricots, and plums work well with extra-hot chiles like chiles de árbol, while sweeter options like melons, mangoes, peaches, and apples go with mellower choices like ancho chiles.

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Photo: Beth Galton

Cranberry-Paprika Grilled Chicken with Summer Squash and Avocado

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When chiles are dried and ground, they pack even more heat. Dried fruit, which is supersweet and chewy when it's dehydrated, stands up well to that concentrated fire and brings out the fruity notes of the chiles. The range of flavors in dried fruit—from winey raisins to candy-like dates—makes for delicious meals and desserts. Add squash—like in this chicken dish—and you'll be able to handle the dried chiles at their hottest.

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Photo: Beth Galton

Hot and Honeyed Stone Fruit Over Ricotta

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The vinegary kick in hot sauce cuts through the intense sweetness of honey, adding a nice tanginess. Plus, it thins honey so it can be easily spooned over pretty much anything. You can also stir it into a barbecue glaze, a grilling marinade, a salad dressing, a crudité dip, a sandwich spread, almond butter, or your evening cocktail. For dessert, drizzle over warm fruit with creamy ricotta. (And since hot sauce might be the key to a longer life, you can go ahead and have seconds.)

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Photo: Beth Galton

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