Padrón peppers remind me of summer meals, of block parties, of dashing in and out of houses while meat sizzled on the BBQ, when every kid had a water gun or stash of water balloons ready for the inevitable fight, of that smell of water evaporating on hot asphalt. We’d run for hours back and forth down the street without tiring, bike at breakneck speeds to Lighthouse field to climb trees, lay in the back of our dads’ trucks and look up at the big sky full of stars, talking about little things. At some point we would congregate at the food table, where there would likely be stacks of burgers or hot dogs, buns, maybe some steak, salads, occasionally oysters on ice, and often a plate of barely-cooked Padrón peppers. Those peppers disappeared within a few minutes, hands stealing another one off the plate before the first had been swallowed. Salty, a little sweet, perfectly Summer in two bites.
This is one of those non-recipe recipes: it’s more of a method than anything, because it’s really just about how you cook the Padróns. It’s an insanely simple but super tasty celebration of this underrated summer vegetable. Do watch out though—occasionally you’ll hit a super spicy one (or not—that’s the gamble!), but most of them are as mild as bell peppers. You can substitute Shishito peppers, another lovely summer pepper, if you’d like.
Blistered Padrón Peppers
2 pints Padrón peppers
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
freshly cracked black pepper
flaky sea salt (optional)
Rinse your Padróns and remove any dried bits of blossom still hanging on.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add 2 tbsp olive oil and swirl around the pan. Once the oil is shimmering-hot, add the Padróns, 1/4 tsp salt, and stir. Let them cook, undisturbed, for a minute or two, then toss, and let cook another minute or so on that side. Continue tossing and waiting, until the peppers are blistered in places, roughly 7 minutes. Crack some black pepper over the top, stir, and remove from the heat. Taste and add salt or pepper as needed.
Serve hot, sprinkled with some flaky sea salt if you’d like. Enjoy!