Fried Padrón Peppers – Now That’s Amor
Today’s post is by our resident farm foodie – Debra Dubief
You know how I am so fond of advising you to just make the plunge and buy some wonderful, but fleeting seasonal fruit or vegetable without possibly having a plan for them? These recommendations are not made lightly, they are made with the passion and gusto for something that is really so wonderful it doesn’t seem right for you to not know about it. The rarities that come and go so quickly you might not even know you missed them.
The object of this week’s foodie love is the beautiful pimiento de Padrón. These amazing little peppers are not only addictive to eat, but with virtually no prep needed, except washing, they couldn’t be simpler to cook. A plate of them makes a perfect appetizer since you just grab by the stem and eat the whole pepper. Tender and delicious, I was very happy to have two lovely bags of Padróns on my counter when friends invited us to a late summer barbecue.
I figured I’d prepare them in classic Spanish style—after all it was a gorgeous, sunny afternoon—and it seemed like just the thing to snack on as we savored some of the last al fresco dining of the season. Then I ran across a recipe that took the traditional simplicity, peppers, olive oil, coarse salt, to an elevated, yet still rustic level. I knew it was just the thing for that fine evening. Eyeing some figs in the fridge, I couldn’t resist adding them to my platter of peppers. Seemed a little weird, but they looked so beautiful together. Besides, I justified, wouldn’t a bite of sticky, sweet fig be just the thing to extinguish any heat a few rogue peppers might deliver?
The slightly eccentric combination was pretty heavenly and had all of us swooning with such delight as we slurped up every last one of the sweet, salty, spicy morsels. The next day I ordered two more bags of those fabulous Padróns and another pint of figs. Our next round will likely be enjoyed indoors, but a plate of spicy, garlicky peppers and figs on the table conjuring up images of seaside Spanish tapas bars will surely bring the amor back to our cozy dining room.
This dish is wonderful served with fresh figs and chilled glasses of Albariño. The Serrano ham or prosciutto is optional, but highly recommended.
Spanish Style Padrón Peppers
Adapted from Saveur
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound Padrón peppers
2 oz. thinly sliced serrano ham or prosciutto, torn into 2″ pieces
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
Sea salt, to taste
Juice of 1/2 to one lemon
Heat a 12″ cast-iron skillet over high heat. Add oil and heat until it ripples and smokes lightly. Add whole peppers and ham or prosciutto and cook, flipping peppers occasionally with a spoon, until peppers have blistered and softened, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 1 more minute.
Transfer peppers to a platter, sprinkle generously with sea salt, and squeeze juice from half a lemon over all. Taste and add additional salt or lemon juice if desired.