Summer is the perfect time to harvest herbs and vegetables for delicious drinks and appetizers. That’s why I’m delighted the nationally known chef and food blogger Viviane Bauquet Farre of foodandstyle.com has agreed to share some recipes and culinary stories. Here is her special guest post for Seasonal Wisdom …
A few years ago these shiny little peppers from Spain caught my eye. A basketful of them was prominently displayed at one of my favorite stands at the Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan. The farmer, Nevia No (who is also a very dear friend), has a 70-acre farm where she specializes in growing heirloom varieties of all kinds of vegetables.
I couldn’t help but reach in and grab a handful. “What are these gorgeous little peppers?” I asked.
“You don’t know about Pimientos de Padrón?” she exclaimed. “One out of 20 peppers will be hot, but otherwise they’re sweet.”
Thoroughly intrigued, I bought a bag and rushed home. With a little research I discovered that Pimientos de Padrón are a specialty of Galicia in Northern Spain, where they are a favorite tapa, simply sautéed in olive oil and served with a sprinkle of salt. Padróns are also famously known as the “Russian roulette peppers,” as only a couple of peppers a batch will deliver that “hot” bullet.
But aside from the excitement of eating them with friends, these peppers are just plain delicious. They have a lovely, smoky, sweet flavor, that is completely devoid of bitterness. Eating them is so addictive that you quickly forget about the threat of the lurking bullet.
Last year, I decided to visit Nevia’s farm. It was late August, and the crops were in full swing. It didn’t take long for me to spot the rows of Padróns. The bushes were waist-high and loaded with the little peppers. I instantly realized that these beautiful plants would be perfect for a home garden.
These days, finding heirloom seeds is a cinch. Many seed companies and local stores carry them. But Johnny’s Selected Seeds is a very reliable source of Pimientos de Padrón seeds. They sell them in “mini” packages of 30 seeds – very convenient for the home gardener. They also give very precise growing tips, so make sure to click on the “growing info” tab. Planting 4 to 6 plants would give you an abundant weekly harvest all summer and early fall, until first frost.
I did start a new garden this year, but didn’t manage to start my own seeds. Next year will be a different story, however, and these peppers are very high on my list of plants to start indoors. Meanwhile, I’m grateful that Nevia always grows the Padróns. They’ve become one of her most popular crops. It’s easy to see why: How many foods are as fun to eat as they are delicious?
Pimientos de Padrón
active time: 10 min
- 3 tablespoons Spanish extra virgin olive oil
- 12 oz (340g) Pimientos de Padrón – rinsed and thoroughly dried on a kitchen towel
- sea salt to taste
- Heat a large heavy-bottom skillet over high heat. When the pan is hot, add the oil and peppers and toss well. Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes until peppers are golden-brown and blistered; tossing only occasionally. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle with salt to taste. Place in a serving bowl and serve warm.