This past Saturday, a customer approached me at the farmers’ market explaining that she was looking for a certain item but could not recall its name. She went on to describe it as a very small pepper that she’d enjoyed as an appetizer while traveling in Spain.
Simply prepared in a hot pan with olive oil and finished with a pinch of salt, this delicious pepper was a culinary experience that she was hoping to recreate in her home kitchen.
Almost instantly into our discussion, I knew exactly what she was looking for: Padron peppers. This traditional pepper is indeed encountered throughout Spain, particularly at tapas bars. They’re enjoyed blistered and seasoned with salt.
Ranging in spiciness from mild to medium, the larger Padron peppers tend to deliver more heat but ideally, they are harvested at their younger stage.
Padron peppers are indeed a seasonal summer and fall item that pops up from time to time at our weekly markets.
Unfortunately this past Saturday, I had not encountered any Padron peppers on site but had the perfect substitute in mind. In great abundance this week, fresh shishito peppers are equally ideal for blistering in a hot pan and seasoning with salt, enjoying the cooked pepper right off of the stem. Once cooked, shishito peppers are very similar to Padron peppers with regards to flavor and texture. However, they are not as spicy when they reach peak maturity.
This week, I prepared blistered shishito peppers with garlic and an avocado-cilantro dressing. You can easily enjoy these small elongated peppers simply blistered in olive oil and a pinch of salt if desired.
Blistered Shishito Peppers with Avocado Cilantro Dressing
1 pound shishito peppers.
2 tablespoons olive oil.
4 cloves garlic, sliced into small rounds.
1/2 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste preference).
In a large pan over a burner at high heat, add olive oil. Once hot, add the shishito peppers and start to blister. After about 2 minutes, flip each pepper over, and blister on the other side. Add garlic and cook for a final minute.
You may need to drizzle with additional olive oil. Serve cooked shishito peppers hot with a little drizzle of dressing. Or use the dressing as a dipping sauce.
For the avocado-cilantro dressing (which you can make in advance and refrigerate):
1 ripe medium Hass avocado.
1/4 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream.
Juice from 1 lime.
1/2 cup cilantro leaves.
Pinch of salt.
2 cloves garlic, minced.
2 tablespoons olive oil.
1 tablespoon rice vinegar.
(Add a little water for thinner consistency.)
Blend together all contents until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to enjoy.