The first time I had Padrón peppers, I was not in Spain, but I was at the next-best place for all things Spanish, Bar Cesar. Maggie Pond is the chef there and in addition to being a totally nice, down-to-earth person and an amazing chef, she is an expert on Spanish food. She served us a plate of these peppers, briefly fried and sprinkled with sea salt, and three plates later, we were all marveling. These little peppers are full of flavor, and when combined with some crunchy sea salt they are addictive. Most of them are mild, but occasionally one will be fiery hot, so eating them is somewhat surprising. The important thing, obviously, is to have a cold drink close at hand in case quenching is required. A cold glass of Alberiño would do the job.
When Maggie first served us a plate of these little firecrackers, no one was growing Padrón peppers here. Maggie knew an old Spanish farmer that grew them especially for the restaurant. Over the last few years, these peppers have started to become very popular and I’ve seen them at local farm stands and in CSAs. Imagine my thrill when I saw them in Whole Foods the other day-it looks like Del Cabo is growing them now. Whatever you think about huge, industrial organic farming…I’ll admit I was very happy to see those peppers en masse at the market. I may have done a little jump-up-and-down thing in the produce section.
After I brought the peppers home, I remembered that we are not in frying-things mode right now. Dave and I are (foolishly) participating in a summer shape-up contest that involves 14 people, 3 months and lots of exercise and healthy eating. You may be asking yourself why the hell I thought up such torture and then roped other innocent victims in to suffer with me. The combination of our difficult last year and my love of baking delicious things like this and this, and not observing the very important rule of moderation, have led to a few extra pounds, which are not really bothering me, but they are preventing my boot from fitting into my good jeans, which is unacceptable. So therefore the hellish healthy contest in which we are all eating chicken, fruits, veg and oats and exercising all the freaking time. I digress…the point is that we are not frying things, at all. I thought we might get good results from tossing these peppers in a tiny bit of olive oil and grilling them over a hot fire and then sprinkling with salt. The results? Amazing. I actually think I like this grilled version better than the fried, if such a thing is possible. If you can lay your hands on some Maldon salt, it adds a terrific texture to the dish. Otherwise, any crunchy salt will do. If you can’t find Padrón peppers in your area, you could do a similar dish with Anaheims, or whatever interesting green pepper you have the heat tolerance for. This is a fantastic, light, fun appetizer or snack that is the perfect thing for a hot summer evening.
|Grilled Padron Peppers||
- 1 dry pint Padron Peppers
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt
- Light the grill.
- Wash the peppers and dry.
- Toss the peppers with the olive oil until well coated.
- Grill over a hot fire until the skins just begin to char–a minute or two on each side depending on your fire. Use tongs to flip the peppers so that all sides are just beginning to char.
- Remove the peppers and sprinkle with sea salt.
- Eat as soon as you can.