We just love discovering new foods. The greatest thing to hit our local farmers markets this summer, or at least that’s new to us, is the Padrón pepper. Steve first tasted them at Bocadillos where they were served pintxos-style, cooked whole in a little olive oil until the skins blistered then lightly salted. He was hooked from the first bite.
Padróns have a unique flavor marked by an unusual meatiness and just a hint of bitter. They (usually) pack no heat in the tiny seed cluster that nestles next to the stem. But every once in a while, you get a hot one that reminds you that you’re eating peppers. The heat dissipates quickly. It’s spicy like cinnamon, not like a hot chili pepper, so there’s no risk that the capsaicin sensitive will be bowled over by these delicious nibbles.
The dark green peppers are picked when bite-sized making them a perfect finger food. And like other salty finger foods, they’re hard to push away from after only a couple of bites. We’ve eaten entire pints in a single sitting. But unlike potato chips or roasted nuts, we just can’t feel guilty about feasting on them.
These Spanish delicacies are, in fact, a New World food that made its way back to Europe a few hundred years ago. Popularized by Jose Andres, and other Spanish chefs, the pepper variety is enjoying its 15 minutes of fame and as such is now readily available throughout the summer at a growing number of farmers markets across the country.
Peter Piper may have picked a peck of pickled peppers, but we sautéed the Padrón peppers with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Which is much easier to say and do.
Even though we are late to this pepper’s fan parade, we want to give a big shout out to them for anyone who will listen. Now go out and find some Padrón peppers and give them a try!
1 pint Padrón peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 good pinch of course sea salt
Wash peppers under running cold water until well rinsed, drain. Heat olive oil in sauté pan until just shimmering. Add peppers and cook on medium high heat, turning frequently, until skins blister on all sides. Remove from heat, drain on paper towels and plate, sprinkling with the sea salt. Eat warm or at room temperature.