Pimientos de Padrón
So the Veggiewave was just another cruel April Fool's joke, the meat will continue! There was a little truth in that prank though—it's becoming clear I need to balance my diet better to ensure I'm around for a long to keep enjoying the meaty delights of life. So while you can breath a sigh of relief that we won't be all veggie, all the time, there will certainly be some more sides and main that could be construed as a "healthier options," but that doesn't mean they aren't incredibly delicious. Take these pimientos de Padrón for example. They're basically just peppers (fruit), olive oil (good for you oil), and a little sea salt, but they're so tasty that I have no problem devouring an entire plate of them in one sitting.
It was a year ago today that Ilanded in Madrid for a three-week Spanish excursion. While the sites were extraordinary, the food became the most memorable part of the trip—I could eat jamón Ibérico everyday for the rest of my life and die a happy man. Besides the ham, one of my favorite tapas were these pimientos de Padrón, providing a fresh and fruity compliment to meals otherwise comprised of a lot of meat, cheese, and potatoes.
I kind of assumed that pimientos de Padrón would be a dish I would only get in Spain. These small green peppers are historically grown in the Galician town of Padrón, although short seasonality there means that most of the year they come from Southern Spain or Morocco. That's still a strong locality that would make me think that I wouldn't find Padrón peppers stateside, but low and behold, on my first trip to Whole Foods after returning home, a few boxes of Padróns were sitting on the shelf next to the common jalapeños and habaneros.
These particular peppers were cultivated in Mexico, which is actually the ancestral home of the Padrón pepper, so I figured they do well enough. If you can't find Padróns, Japanese shishito peppers are the next closest match and more common in the U.S.
Once I had them home, I thought about giving the peppers the traditional treatment of pan frying until blistery, but why sauté when you can grill!
After being tossed in some olive oil, the peppers were placed over the flames. With the fire running hot, it took only a few minutes for them to blister and brown. A quick sprinkle of sea salt was all that was needed then to finish them up.
I know it's not much of recipe, but these little peppers are insanely awesome. Slightly fruity, fresh, and salty, they're a perfect accompaniment to almost anything. For the most part they're pretty mild, but every once in a while there's a hot pepper in the batch, which makes them all the more fun to eat. I was so glad I was able to find these peppers back at home, and you shouldn't hesitate to pick them up if you ever see them yourself.
Pimientos de Padrón
- Yield 3-4 servings as a side dish
- Prep 2 Minutes
- Cook 6 Minutes
- Total 8 Minutes
- 1/2 pound pimientos de Padrón
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Coarse sea salt, to taste
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil grilling grate. Place peppers in a medium bowl, drizzle in olive oil, and toss to thoroughly coat peppers in oil. Place peppers on grill and cook until blistered all over, 1-3 minutes per side.
- Transfer peppers to serving plate. Spring with salt to taste; serve immediately.