Seasonal Flavors: The Delicious, Propitious Shishito

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I first encountered shishito peppers in San Francisco restaurant, during a business trip two years ago. My Charlottesville colleagues looked at the menu and began to exclaim about the appetizer. Apparently they had seen these beauties at Whole Foods and loved them despite the expense. These are pricey peppers in the market.

We ordered the roasted shishito appetizer. The small, sweet, wrinkled peppers arrived, roasted in olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. They were at room temperature by the time we ate them, just delicious.

These Japanese peppers are sweet, though I’ve read that about every hundredth pepper is spicy hot. I’ve worked hard to find one of those hot ones—to no avail!

I ordered seeds from a California grower last year and produced my first garden batch.  Knowing the unusual nature of this vegetable and uncertainty of procuring, I offered our Crozet Gazette community some seeds that I had saved to ensure you’d have some this year. I hope that those of you who wrote to me for the free seed packets are enjoying these beautiful vegetables. The shishitos have been my earliest bearers of the five kinds of peppers I’m growing this year. I’ve already been eating them for weeks and each plant is a heavy producer.

If you didn’t grow your own shishitos, I’m happy to report that they are available at the Crozet Great Valu Grocery store! Many thanks to Jean, Dave and Pete for always being willing to order the specialty items included in my recipes.

Here’s another way to enjoy these delicious peppers. The savory taste of the pepper contrasts nicely with the sweet peach. And every salad benefits from a little crunch, so be sure to toast and add the nuts.

We’ve had a wonderful summer with hot temperatures and bountiful rain.  Enjoy the peppers, the local peaches and all the produce so abundant now.

 

Shishito Pepper, Peach & Pecan Salad

Begin by washing a handful of arugula or other green for each serving. Dry the greens and set aside.

Toast an eighth cup of pecans per person in a cast iron frying pan. No need to add oil. Toast till brown but be careful not to burn. Set aside.

Now that your pan is hot, roast the shishito peppers with a little olive oil. Prepare 4 -5 peppers per person. Keep turning the peppers till they blister on all sides. Set aside.

Prepare a dressing of ½ cup olive oil, ¼ cup wine vinegar, 2 T honey, ¼ tsp. salt. Toss the greens in enough of this dressing to coat the greens, but do not allow dressing to pool in the bowl.

Slice the peaches just before assembling the salad so that the fruit doesn’t turn brown. If fresh and young, leave the skins on the fruit; otherwise remove.

Assemble each salad individually by placing the greens first, then artfully arranging the peaches and peppers, followed by a sprinkle of nuts and additional dressing if desired.

Chilled white wine, this salad, back porch, evening breeze: summer gratitude.

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