Mmmm! I love hot peppers. Lucky me that there is a stall at the farmers market in Moscow, ID with at least 30 varieties of hot peppers grown in Royal City, WA. I grabbed a handful of unfamiliar looking ones with the hopes of making salsa as well as some interesting pepper dishes. My haul included a dozen or so aji limon, two mushroom habaneros, and a couple of Red Romanian peppers to put flavor in salsa.

I've been bumming around my parents place for a while now so I decided it was time to cook a real dinner for everyone. The result was asparagus, shrimp and smoked sun dried tomato lemon pepper pasta with aji limon and habanero and a side of sweet potato mash with hibiscus sauce. I love experimenting in the kitchen.

I used this recipe as the base (using the idea of aji limon from one of the comments and adding some habanero besides) and dressed it up to suit my taste. I used smoked sun dried tomatoes because they looked really good at the store. I had never seen them before. It turned out that they complemented the peppers perfectly and added a whole dimension to the pasta. 

I hadn't cooked with fresh hot peppers before but managed to keep the heat to just the right level. It put a lingering heat in the back of your throat but didn't overpower the combination of fresh lemon juice and unrefined sea salt or the asparagus. It would have gone over well even back in Scandanavian Minnesota where a rack of peppers like this in the farmers market is unheard-of. The lemony taste of the aji limon went well with the pasta and the habanero went right along with the tomato. 

I'm not sure why I settled on mashed sweet potato. It made for a very red shifted dinner (no, I assure you, the pasta was not running away. It stayed put!) but tasted great with the pasta. 

I wanted something to liven them up a bit and nearly made cranberry sauce. I love the combination of cranberry and sweet potato at Thanksgiving despite the odd looks I sometimes get when my cranberry sauce is somewhere other than on my turkey. Instead, I remembered we had a bag of dried hibiscus flowers from Trader Joe's in the drawer. They taste about like Craisins but with that interesting hibiscus undertone instead of just sour.

So...into the pot went about a cup of minced hibiscus flower covered with 1 1/2 cups of water and a couple of cardamom pods. After the hibiscus was losing it's color I strained out the chunks and added some lemon rind, lemon juice a bit of sugar and a bit of corn starch to thicken it up. Yummy!!!! This was a really fun and different sauce that would go great on steamed pears or some other desert. It also gave the potatoes some zing and added color and interest to the whole plate.

I would urge anyone to give this recipe a try. It's easy and leaves lots of room for creativity. It can be dressed down for lunch or dressed up fancy. It would probably even be good cold as a pasta salad. This is a keeper for me.