Padrón Peppers

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!


Padrón Peppers

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.

The Farmer’s Market

A farmer’s market has finally come to our neighborhood. Farm booths line up, tucked into a parking strip dividing the block between Irving and Judah at 8th and 9th Avenues. It’s now well into June and the market’s bounty hints at the summer weeks to come. Lot’s of things are now in season. The strawberries are getting bigger, the tomato varieties are more plentiful and the summer squash are beating their growers in the game to keep them at a manageable size before harvest.

Eating seasonally makes sense if you’re trying to consume the freshest locally produced foods available in the market. There will be much more written on the virtues of eating organic, locally produced food. For now, we’re just happy to say our choices have gotten better.

We’re lucky to live in California where fresh produce comes into local farmers’ markets year-round. If you’d like to know what’s in season in your area, take a look at this useful site. Winter can be tough in certain parts of the country, but taking advantage of the summer market’s bounty by freezing or canning while things are cheap and plentiful can make a huge difference in your winter consumption. Seriously, even if you live in a home that has modest storage capacity, you can put a lot of food up in storage at a fraction of the cost of grocery store shopping. What’s more, you’ll know where the food came from and the people who grew it for you.

For a list of farmers’ markets near you, visit Local Harvest online. This exceptional site allows you to search for farmers and markets in your area. You’ll also find a host of blogs and resources to keep you in the loop on local food trends. Of course, we hope you’ll take note of what’s out there and then step away from your computers, walk outside and head to the nearest market. Enjoy!