Shishito peppers, and their Spanish cousins, pimientos de padron, have probably developed as many different reputations as they have individual consumers. There is no one typical experience with the fieriness of these unpredictable capsicums, but for those who make it through unharmed, or at least undaunted, there may be no more exciting appetizer.
And so it’s been for me, since Barry and I first encountered pimientos de padron, in northern Spain 11 years ago, in the Basque coastal town of Getaria, in Gipuzkoa. While I don’t seek out real heat in any kind of pepper, life would be less interesting if I thought, when presented with a plate of shishito or padron, there wasn’t a chance I’d at least come across a suggestion of the kind of fire for which the Scoville scale was invented.
We’ve both found that the peppers sold by Alewife Farm this year fit that bill perfectly.
- just the right amount (I didn’t count or weigh them, but I still have some remaining in the crisper) of shishito pepers from Alewife Farm, washed, drained, dried, then sautéed over medium high heat in a broad cast iron pan for a few minutes, stirring, seasoned with Maldon salt, arranged on the plates, more of the salt added, to taste (the crystals can be seen in the image above)
- slices of a really seductive Pain d’Avignon multi-grain loaf from Foragers
I was going to write that the pasta was just a good artisanal squid ink strozzapreti with some tomatoes and herbs, but when I started composing the narrative for the recipe I realized that description was a little too simple.
- a handful of thinly-sliced celery stalk from Neversink Organic Farm sautéed in a little olive oil inside an antique, high-sided tin-lined copper pot until softened, and one large fresh clove of spring garlic from Alex’s Tomato Farm (it had survived very well in the crisper of the refrigerator), and one Keith’s Farm clove of rocambole garlic, both squished, heated until they had begun to color, a bit of crushed dried pepperoncino Calabresi secchi from Buon Italia added, the mix stirred a little before half a pound of squid ink pasta (8 ounces of Severino squid ink strozzapreti from Whole Foods Market) that had just finished cooking, al dente, was added, the mix stirred again, now with some reserved pasta cooking water, over medium high flame until the liquids had emulsified, and a mix of small heirloom tomatoes from Eckerton Hill Farm, halved or sliced, several times, depending on their size, sprinkled with whole medium basil leaves from a Full Bloom Market Garden plant from Whole Foods Market, arranged inside 2 shallow bowls, finished with micro bronze fennel from Two Guys from Woodbridge, a bit of olive oil poured around the edges.
- the wine was an Italian (Abruzzo) white, Cantina Zaccagnini Pinot Grigio 2016, from Philippe Wines
- the music was the last of the 6 CD’s from the set, ‘Haydn: The “Sturm & Drang” Symphonies’