Charred Padrón Peppers with Spicy Aioli

Charred Padron Peppers with Garlic Aioli

Padrón peppers (pimientos de padrón) are small, green, Spanish peppers originally from Galacia, but now grown all over the world. At the very tail end of their season in November (they don’t usually stay around this long, as the season normally only runs from June through September), I wanted to squeeze in a recipe before they are gone for good until next summer.

Delicious charred in the oven, sautéed in a skillet or wood burning stove, padróns are a perfect bite that explodes with flavor. Very tasty when drenched with a creamy aioli (a traditional garlic mayonnaise from Provence), just bite them off at the tip and let them melt in your mouth.

Padron peppers

Here’s the thing about padrón peppers: while most are mild, 1 in 10 (or 20 or 50, nobody really knows or agrees) is actually very spicy. So eating padróns is a bit like playing Russian roulette (except in this case it is “Spanish roulette”), or as Forrest Gump said, “you never know what you’re gonna get”.

Are you the gambling kind?

I love anything spicy, but if you are not keen on it, opt for shishito peppers, instead. Around the same size and color as padróns, but completely mild, shishito peppers are also very tasty.

To lower the heat index further, use sweet paprika instead of hot in the aioli.

The traditional way to prepare padrón peppers is to pan fry or oven roast them with olive oil and sea salt. But because it’s better not to cook with olive oil (heat oxidizes it), just dry roast them in the oven, and then only add olive oil and sea salt. It works out just fine, and is healthier that way.

Padrón peppers support the digestive and cardiovascular systems, regulate blood pressure, and are even reputed to help with scar healing. Not bad for such a little veggie.

This recipe makes for a very quick, and very easy, appetizer or side dish. If your house is like mine, your guests will be clamoring for more, and you, my friend, will be licking that aioli bowl clean!

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Charred Padrón Peppers with Spicy Aioli

Servings: 4

Ingredients

For the peppers:
1 lb padrón (or shishito) peppers
fleur de sel or sea salt
olive oil

For the aioli:
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 whole egg, room temperature
1 egg yolk, room temperature
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon hot paprika
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
pinch freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Prepare the aioli:

Zest lemon and set aside.

Place egg, egg yolk, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, paprika, sea salt and black pepper in a high speed blender. Blend on medium until just combined, about 5 seconds.

With the motor still running on medium, then medium-high, very slowly drizzle in the olive oil until aioli is thick and creamy, about 1 minute.

Pour into a bowl. Gently fold in the lemon zest. Set aside.

Prepare the peppers:

Add peppers to a large baking dish.

Roast for 5 minutes, then broil on high until charred in places, about 5-8 minutes.

When peppers are well charred, remove from the oven and add to serving bowl. Drizzle on olive oil, and sprinkle on fleur de sel or sea salt, to taste. Be generous with both.

Serve immediately with aioli on the side.

Though you probably won’t have any leftovers, the aioli can be stored in a small mason jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.  It will continue to thicken as it cools. Use it on sandwiches, as a dip, and anywhere you normally use mayonnaise.

 

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