Beyond mere heat, dried peppers bring a deep, rich flavor to whatever they touch. Drop them whole into slow-cooked beans for an understated effect or split the chile in half to unleash its fire. Dried peppers can be toasted until they become puffy and fragrant, then rehydrated with hot water and puréed into a paste or a sauce for a range of flavors: sweet and mildly spiced ñora peppers from the Valencia region of Spain are added to soffrito to make up a flavorful base for paella, while deep-red fleshed guajillos and ancho chiles from Mexico are typical elements in salsas and moles.
We like to keep a mix of dried chiles and chile flakes. Add them by the pinch to pastas or wherever a touch of spice is required. Two of our favorites are Calabrian chile flakes and the Turkish pepper known as marash. The burgundy-colored pepper flakes have fruity undertones with just a bit of acidity that goes perfect with fish and vegetables.