Do you know about padron peppers? I mean, do you really know about them? The first time I had padron peppers was at the Eat Real Festival in Oakland a few years ago. One of the many vendors was selling little baskets of small green peppers that looked sort of like jalapenos, that had been quickly cooked in a superhot cast iron skillet, then tossed with a little olive oil and salt. The line was very long. My friend wanted to keep moving to find who was selling the goat’s milk ice cream. I said hold on.
Padrons look like jalapenos, but they aren’t spicy. They are tender little baby peppers with the smoky flavor of a pasilla or poblano, but you can eat the whole thing, seeds and all. Pick them up by the stem and bite off the whole pepper. They are so delicious, you can’t even believe it.
I knew I had to grow them for myself, but I didn’t yet have the means. The next year my neighbor Gina grew them but she wasn’t really a fan. Hers were very spicy and she didn’t use them that much. Turns out she’d been letting them grow too big and turn into real chili peppers. She’d never had them pan-roasted with salt and olive oil like I’d had, and she didn’t see what the big deal was. I happily relieved her plants of a bumper crop and had myself a pepper feast one night.
This year I searched high and low, at all the good nurseries with the weird stuff that only your real hardcore gardening nerds like. Some places had no idea what I was talking about. Others knew but were having a hard time tracking them down themselves. I had spots in my garden where they were supposed to go, and well after all my other veggies were in, the spots for the padrons sat empty.
But I didn’t give up, and finally, after my third trip to the most promising nursery, I struck gold! The plants they had were tiny and a little misshapen, but I didn’t care. I bought the last three.
The plants are huge and healthy and cranking out peppers and I am just in ecstasy. Last night Paul and I shared a plate full of them, pan roasted with salt and olive oil of course, as an appetizer. So good. So good that even though the plants are very prolific for peppers, it’s way too easy to finish off all the ripe ones in one go and then have to wait anxiously until another bunch are ready to pick.
Next year I’m buying six plants. No. Ten.