If you're like us, you look to the seasons for what to cook. Get to the market, and we'll show you what to do with your haul.
Today: A ridiculously easy appetizer, inspired by a dream meal, that you can replicate at home with just four ingredients.
Sometimes, when you're at a restaurant and you're afraid of how good your main course is going to be, you order an appetizer. You prolong your experience and you make your Last Bite as far away from the present as possible. (I will decline a foreplay analogy here.) You enjoy the food slowly, quietly, deliberately. You prepare, in reverence, for the main event.
As such, on a recent trip to Seattle, I made a pilgrimage to Delancey and I ordered a plate of shishito peppers to ease into my meal. There was pizza in my future. But I was not ready for it yet.
Delancey is a neighborhood restaurant, run by Molly Wizenberg and Brandon Pettit, where friendliness pervades every interaction. A diner sitting alone at the counter is given attention, then given space, then given food. More friendliness follows. The pizza, as everyone will tell you, will change your life. It is a reason in itself to fly to Seattle. But the shishitos you can take home with you. And you should.
Blistered to the point of collapsing, peppered with large flakes of salt, and served with just a wedge of lime, these peppers were so good that the man seated to my left ordered three plates. This was a smart decision. When I returned home, my first order of business was to ask Molly for all of her pepper-related secrets.
This is a very low-maintenance dish in both preparation and consumption: it comes with its own utensil (a stem), requires minimal dressing (salt + acid), and once you've seen it prepared, you get it: heat oil; deposit peppers; watch them blister. Rotate them like ears of corn on a grill. They are done, in Molly's words, when they are "tender to the tooth." Drain them on paper towels. Salt with reckless abandon. Try one; add a squeeze of lime; marvel as delicious turns into something transcendent: smoky, sweet, spicy, almost laughably perfect.
You can serve these to company as a boastfully effortless appetizer; eat them as a snack when you're feeling peckish; put them on your pizza. Hell, eat the whole batch as a meal.
Serves 4, as an appetizer
1 pound shishito peppers, preferably with stem intact
Grapeseed oil (or another oil with a high smoke point)
1 lime, cut into wedges
Photos by Eric Moran