This has to be the ultimate appetizer for aperitivo hour. The peppers are full of flavor, simple to prepare, low in calories, salty and playful (1 in about 7 is smoking hot). These peppers were originally discovered by the conquistadores in Mexico and were brought back to Spain and planted by the monks in the northern town of Padron in Galicia. The season runs from about May through October. If you ever visit the plaza mayor in Padron you will see many statues of woman holding baskets of these highly revered peppers.
Ingredients (serves 8-10 as a light snack):
-1 pound of Padron peppers
-extra virgin olive oil
-coarse sea salt
Heat a carbon steel or cast iron pan (stainless steel will do fine too) over high heat until smoking. If using a very seasoned pan you may not need oil. If using something conventional like stainless add a few tablespoons of oil along with the peppers to get things going. Saute over high heat for 6-8 minutes, turning frequently with tongs. We want the peppers to become soft and slightly caramelized.
Transfer to a platter and dress liberally with your best quality olive oil. Apply a generous amount of the coarse salt and toss well. Serve immediately or at room temperature.
James is a food writer and Bay Area chef who owns and runs a private dinner party and cooking class business specializing in regional Italian and Spanish cuisine. See CookWithJames.com