Padrón peppers with tomato bread and aioli
Since beginning to write this column I have gone to great lengths to ensure the dishes featured showcase ingredients that are in peak season. Given our environmental forecast of warming conditions, and in the name of adaptability, I give you an early recipe for peppers.
Expanding networks and logistics, and food storage that straddles the seasons, now mean we effectively can have anything at any time. Therefore we can enjoy a well-rounded diet and don’t have to eat too much of a single ingredient.
Consuming one thing excessively during the glut of a season can have unfortunate consequences. A word to the wise – avoid eating too many fruits that contain a kernel. But while I advise caution, I also feel it’s important to celebrate the good times: that point of harvest, mostly in summer, where a certain fruit or vegetable is bountiful and has just hit the ideal ripeness.
Thankfully, peppers tend not to ripen all at the same time. They can span over a month or more depending on the growing conditions. I remember first serving these Padrón peppers at Pacific Dining Room in Byron Bay some 10 years ago. Tasting them evokes the start of warmer months, so it’s easy to get excited. Even when I have planned to move on to more substantial dishes, I’ve often started or ended a meal with Padrón peppers and some bread.
- 4 fingers of bread, cut 12cm x 2cm x 2cm
- 200ml tomato juice
- 60ml olive oil
- 200ml grapeseed oil
- ½ clove raw garlic, finely grated
- 1 egg
- 60ml apple cider vinegar
- 20ml lemon juice
- 40ml cold water
- 500g Padrón peppers (or shishito)
- 30ml olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
- 40ml cooking sherry
- Soak the bread fingers in the tomato juice in a bowl until they have absorbed all the liquid, then pan-fry in the oil over medium heat until crisp (about one minute for each piece).
- Combine the aioli ingredients in an immersion blender jug. Start the blender with the blade all the way to the bottom. Blend on high speed and slowly draw the blade up to the top. The mix should go white and thicken as it emulsifies. Adjust with seasoning and water if required.
- Toss the peppers in the oil and set a cast-iron or similarly heavy-based pan onto a medium to high flame. Add the peppers and cook until they begin to blacken. Finish with the garlic and then add the sherry just before tipping the peppers directly onto a serving plate. Finish with a liberal amount of salt.
- Serve each item separately as a set. Perfect with a lager-style beer.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on October 12, 2019 as "Padrón colliders".
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