I once, long ago, studied in Spain, and I lived with a sweet host mom who made everything from scratch, including yogurt, pizza, and paella. Hi Paloma, wherever you are!
I ate a lot of tapas, which can mean anything from the ubiquitous croquetas and patatas bravas to gambas a la plancha and bacalao. I love true Spanish tapas, yet I can't discern whether my love has more to do with nostalgia or a taste for the food. What I would do to go back Spain to find out.
Warm up olive oil in a pan, preferrably a cast iron, if you have one.
Add your peppers whole and toss around.
Back then, I made it down many a Spanish and Catalan menu. But it wasn't until I moved here, the west side of Los Angeles, and traveled three blocks to a stall wedged between a post office and a party store, that I had my first padrón pepper. Padrón's a town in the Galician province of Spain, and the pimiento de padrón is my new addiction, second only to Hot Cheetos. By the way, the closest I ever got to Galicia was hearing Paloma imitate the lilting, upward inflection you might hear if you were to travel there.
After a few minutes, the peppers will start to blister. Keep tossing.
It's unlikely that I will make it back to Spain any time soon, so in the meantime, thank you, Mar Vista Farmers' Market, for my tapas fix! (Shoutout to my neighborhood farmers' market, which has supplied my fridge with herbed goat cheese, gailan, heirloom tomatoes, and yes, peppers this week!)
Then this beautiful color will start to emerge,
as the pepper skin starts to crisp and pull away from the flesh.
The beauty of these little guys is found in their texture and flavor. They are light, crisp on the outside, soft on the inside. They have a fresh pepper taste that mild, balanced nicely by the flaky skin, which I could only describe as tasting meaty. And tossed with salt? Heaven.
Most of these peppers are mild, but some will deliver a surprising kick of heat. Eat them whole, with the seeds.
Toss with sea salt before serving. Eat hot.
Take me back to Europe, please!