Chile Pepper Cream

A worthy addition to your condiment collection

We recently admitted our condiment addiction after realizing that the inside of our fridge looked like something from an episode of Hoarders.

Since then, we've sworn ourselves to jar and spread restraint. Then a new offering from Italy forced us to make an exception.

The chile pepper cream ($15; click here to buy) that has stolen our hearts is not cream at all. Rather, it's sweet, smoky and slightly spicy Calabrian chile peppers ground into a smooth paste.

The peppers are grown by the Massimo family in Basilicata (we're already fans of their crisp peperoni cruschi). Slowly dried in the sun to concentrate their mild flavor, the peppers are then crushed with the farm's proprietary olive oil. The result is the unadulterated flavor of capsicum in a creamy form.

The uses for the stuff are manifold. It makes an obvious spread on sandwiches that need a bit of a kick, and the addict in us mixed it with mayonnaise for a slow-burn aioli. Add more olive oil and it becomes a marinade or an aggressive salad dressing. For a quick antipasto, smother baked ricotta with it and serve with slices of crusty bread. Or spread it on pizza in lieu of traditional tomato sauce.