Imagine the scene: The rotund bell peppers — red, orange, yellow and green — stuffed and tottering. The fierce habaneros taunting the mild jalapenos. The slim piri piri and the shiny serranos slouched around the campfire, daring each other to jump in. It would be a hot mess.
At end of the evening, everyone — the wrinkled chipotles and slippery banana peppers — would gather to watch the little guys play. The shishitos, Japanese cousins to the Spanish padrons, are adorable — bright, crunchy and mild. (A few — one in 10, according to pepper pediatricians — are hot-headed.)
Someone would mash up a romesco of tomatoes and almonds and garlic and let the shishitos go for a dip. It’s good, as summer fades, to get the whole family together.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Makes: 4 servings
8 ounces fresh shishito peppers
1/3 cup roasted, salted marcona or regular almonds
2 large roasted red peppers, seeds discarded
4 sun-dried tomato halves, packed in oil, drained
2 cloves garlic, degermed (halve and pull out any green shoot)
1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1. Seed: Shishito peppers are mild darlings that can be pan-roasted and munched whole. However, they harbor a dense payload of seeds that makes for a slippery mouthful. If you would like to lose the seeds but retain the handy stem, use kitchen scissors to snip a T into each pepper. The top of the T sits 1/4-inch from the stem and runs half way around the circumference of the pepper. The stem of the T runs about an inch long. Fold flaps open and pull out seeds. Rinse. Dry thoroughly.
2. Chop: Drop almonds into the food processor. Pulse until largest chunks are about the side of split peas. Set aside almonds.
3. Swirl: Drop red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and 1 tablespoon of the chopped almonds into the food processor. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Process again, slowly pouring in 1/4 cup oil. Scrape into a small bowl. Stir in vinegar, paprika, cayenne and the reserved almonds. Season this romesco sauce generously with kosher salt.
4. Roast: Set a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Pour in 1 teaspoon oil. When hot, drop in half the shishito peppers. Cook, tossing, until fragrant and blistered browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining oil and peppers.
5. Serve: Smooth romesco sauce onto a platter. Scatter peppers over sauce. Sprinkle with flaky salt. Dig in.
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