Pick some peppers this weekend
Standing in the Sun Sprout Farm tent last week, I was awed by their panoply of peppers. Remember when Bell peppers were it? And buying a yellow bell pepper seemed exotic? I counted no fewer than 8 varieties in the Sun Sprout bins alone. In addition to the classic red bell, they had sassy shishito peppers, Carmen peppers, Corno di toro peppers which are sweet and shaped like a bull horn. You can use these in recipes that call for an anaheim or poblano pepper. There were also shiny serranos and spicy jalapeños and those loveable lunchbox peppers – the perfect size for a snack with hummus or dip or to eat out of hand. (But they can also work as a terrific side dish sauteed en masse with garlic as in this recipe from 2sisters.com).
Ultimately, I fell for the Jimmy Nardellos: long, slender, twisted and gently tapered at the end. This variety of pepper was originally from Basilicata, a southern region of Italy. It takes its name from seed saver Jimmy Nardello, who brought the seeds from Italy while immigrating to Connecticut in 1887. Their fiery red color when fully ripened deceives. In fact, these peppers have the unique characteristics of being both sweet and mild – no heat whatsoever. Their thin wall and tiny seed cavity make them perfect for frying and many recipes will suggest that. But, please, do yourself a favor and roast them, as I did this week with a little bit of olive oil and coarse salt. I added some shallots to the mix, more subtle and delicate than onions and I also mixed in a tablespoon of Anna Maria’s radicchio jam for kicks and served the peppers with a variety of grilled sausage from Stone & Thistle. My dinner guest was literally picking the peppers, which turned slightly creamy in the roasting, out of the pan, long after we’d cleared the dinner plates. (He’s an old friend.) Please take advantage of these while you still can.
See you at the market!
Pascale Le Draoulec
food writer/ farmer’s market director
author: “American Pie:Slices of Life (and Pie) from America’s Back Roads” (HarperCollins)