Our favorite farmer, Darrell Westover (Westover Farms in Maple Valley), was again at the Issaquah Farmers Market. We’d missed the market for the last two and a half months for reasons beyond our control, so we were sure to get there today before it closes for the season in a few weeks. As I’d posted before, Westover sells unique produce at very fair prices. Two of our favorites are shishitō and corno di toro peppers. The first is technically a chile pepper, the other is in the bell pepper family.
When you find them at the supermarket, shishitō peppers can be both mild and surprisingly spicy in the same batch. They’re typically picked green. But Westover’s are always mild, a quarter of them having turned bright red. My favorite way to enjoy shishitō is pan-fried until blistered, then liberally sprinkled with kosher salt. This is a Japanese preparation, simple and delicious. Eat them as a snack or with steamed Japanese short-grain rice.
Blistered Shishitō Peppers
- 1 pint shishitō peppers, rinsed and thoroughly patted dry
- canola oil or light olive oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt
With an icepick or round toothpick, poke two holes in each pepper to prevent bursting. In 12″ skillet over moderately high heat, add oil and heat until almost smoking. Spread peppers evenly over pan, making sure that none overlap. Allow peppers to fry for 2 minutes until they begin to blister and turn brown on the bottom. Stir peppers frequently for an additional 2 minutes. Turn off heat and combine with salt. Remove peppers to serving bowl.
The Italian bell pepper known as corno di toro (bull’s horn) is thinner and more pointed than supermarket bell peppers. They are also quite sweet, delicious raw. I usually use up lots of peppers by roasting them Italian-style with sliced Italian sausages. Roasting intensifies their sweet flavor and caramelizes the edges for even greater sweetness. Sausages provide a savory counterpoint.
Roasted Peppers with Italian Sausage
- 3 lbs corno di toro or red bell peppers, rinsed and patted dry
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 whole sweet or hot Italian sausages (I use the local Isernio brand)
Preheat oven to 400oF. Trim peppers, cut each lengthwise (cut larger bell peppers lengthwise into fourths), remove veins and seeds, and slice each half (or quarter) crosswise into 1″ strips. In 12″ skillet (preferably cast iron), toss peppers thoroughly with olive oil. Place pan in center of oven and roast for 15 minutes. Stir peppers and place whole sausages on top, and continue roasting peppers and sausages for 10 minutes. Remove sausages to cool, and stir peppers and continue roasting for an additional 10 minutes. Meanwhile, slice slightly cooled sausages into ¼” rounds, stir peppers again, put sausages even over the top and roast for a final 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven, stir peppers and sausages together, and remove to serving bowl. Serve warm or at room temperature with crusty toasted Italian or French bread.
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