Zeal News

Zeal Recipes: Diavolo Sauce

They say good food is best enjoyed when it’s shared with the ones you love… and we couldn’t agree more! That’s why we’re going to be sharing some of our most popular recipes via newsletter and here on our blog. First, we thought we’d share one of our popular made-from-scratch sauces:

Diavolo sauce


Diavolo sauce - Calabria peppers

Diavolo sauce has been a staple of our menu since we opened. We have customers who order this bright, bold, and spicy sauce on their eggs for breakfast, on their BYO bowls as the primary sauce, or as a side dipper sauce with our Hummus or Fingerling Potatoes. It is the featured sauce of our Cauliflower Hot Wings and one of the three sauces served with our Plantains.  It’s a great sauce to share with our fans because it is both versatile and incredibly simple to make; it’s possibly the easiest on our menu.

The beauty of Zeal’s Diavolo Sauce recipe is its combination of heat and acidity. The secret is the Peperoncino Calabrese which we source from Italy’s Calabria Region, the “toe” of the boot and the southernmost land in Italy along the Mediterranean. These peppers have a mildly fruity taste and aroma in their expression of spicy heat. This sauce gets its high acidity from lemon juice which helps to move the spice along quickly so that you don’t feel your mouth burning after each bite. You feel the heat, but then it sort of disappears and you go back for more of it. Garlic and a good Extra Virgin Olive Oil add to the aroma, and the piney contribution of rosemary completes the flavor profile.

For those of you who regularly make your own vinaigrette at home, this recipe will be a snap! Assemble the following ingredients – makes 1 pint of sauce:

  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup Pepperoncino Calabrese (Calabria peppers), stems and some of the seeds removed**
  • 1 cup olive oil, in something you can easily pour gradually
  • Pinch of Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, or to taste

Setting aside the olive oil until the end, combine the remaining ingredients in your blender or food processor and blend. Begin on low or pulse and take it up to high to blend as much as it will go.

Next, begin to add your olive oil in a slow steady stream while with your blender or food processor running. The sauce will begin to emulsify. Stop the blender and taste for consistency and flavor. At this point you can blend it even more if it needs to be smoother or enjoy it immediately.

Store in the refrigerator for up to one month.

**Calabrian Peppers are challenging to find. Whole Foods doesn’t carry them but I found them on Pearl Street at Bayleaf for $20, which was kind of pricey for the size. I also found them online from a store called Supermarket Italy, and the nice thing here was the price $7.99 and the condition which is already crushed and stemmed, and ready to go right out of the jar – Tutto Calabria Crushed Hot Chili Peppers

Note: For making the sauce it really helps to have one of those high-powered blenders in your kitchen, but you can get quality results with a regular blender or food processor (but you might consider dicing or even grinding the rosemary with a mortar and pestle so that you don’t end up with bits of rosemary in the final sauce).

Meet Chef Leslie White

Dialing in the right chef-owner combo is not unlike finding the right husband or wife.  There are the long hours occupying the same space, sacrifices made to operate the business, accountability to show up, keep your word, and work hard to put food on the table.  You gotta work together well, particularly in stressful times, share a common vision, drop the ego battles and communicate effectively.  In this regard I feel lucky to have crossed paths with Chef White, a man who loves to cook, works collaboratively with others, takes a lot of pride in the food he plates, and enjoys the heat of the kitchen.

We met this summer at a 4th of July BBQ at Boulder Lamb and hit it off.  Typical of any good candidate, he was happily employed and not particularly looking for a change, but after a few visits to Zeal and several conversations the opportunity looked promising.  And not only did we get Chef White, but he brought along his trusty sidekick as well, helping us secure a team at the helm of the kitchen crew.  So the dynamic duo, or dream team, as I rotate calling them, Chef Leslie White and Chef Patrick Cook, took over in early October and have been superb at refining the menu and operations of our all important food program.  Come in and try some of their new contributions to the menu.
Their first change was to bring all of the desserts in-house (the vegan fudge and cheesecake are must trys).  Then they got started on the new seasonal fall menu released at the start of the November.  A delicious new Seared Rainbow Trout dish with Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash, a new Lamb and Beef Braise, Chicken and Water Chestnut Butter Lettuce Wraps, Shrimp Piccata and a Waldorf Chicken Sandwich, just to name a few of the delicious new contributions to the Zeal menu.  NEXT UP: New Breakfast Dishes….I can’t wait!