I have the pleasure to get hold of these very pretty looking peppers for a long season here in California. First they appear in April and there is more and more of them as we are moving into the summer. I love everything hot and spicy, so I feel lucky when I pick one and feel the heat alongside the sweetness of these peppers. Although they are good raw too, they really are the best prepared cooked. Olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, chili flakes, sesame are the best to pair them with. Simply coat them with oil and your choice of herbs, spices and either grill them, or pan roast them on high heat, make sure to get a nice char of the skin. Their flavor will change when roasted or grilled, so do give them a try!
The other day when I got lots of them, I simply pan roasted all with olive oil and garlic. Then I served them two different ways.
Serve with a home made tahini sauce as an appetizer to share over a glass of wine
For a flavorful appetizer, great to share on the table with a glass of chardonnay or cabernet, I made a thick sauce (dip) with tahini to accompany these charred peppers. I made my own tahini because for some reason I never found any in the stores I liked… Making your tahini is very easy. First simply toast sesame in a pan or on a tray in the oven. Be careful not to burn them, they will be bitter and so not pleasant. If you are on a raw diet you can simply make a tahini without roasting the sesame seeds. Place the sesame seeds in a powerful food processor with a pinch of salt and start blending. Process as much as you can without any oil, and then gradually start adding grapeseed oil. Add as much oil as needed for smooth blending and to achieve a silky consistency. Place the tahini in a jar, cover with more oil and store in the fridge. You can make the tahini with both black and white sesame seeds. For the tahini dip, leave some of the tahini in the food processor and add lemon juice, water, salt, black pepper or chili flakes and grated garlic. Keep blending to achieve a good consistency. I am not giving you measurements, because this is best tailored to your own taste buds. Adding water will loosen up the tahini, lemon juice will give some acidity and will also take away the heaviness of the fatty tahini. Salt, garlic, black pepper and chili flakes is there to tailor the dip to your taste. Once ready, divide the sauce in small bowls and serve individually to your guests.
Zucchini noodles with roasted pepper sauce and blistered tomatoes
When I realized I had waaaaaay too much of the roasted peppers, I thought about making something else with them. We all know pepper sauce is really good with pasta. I am Hungarian, so for me if you say pepper, let it be any Mexican, Hungarian or Spanish variety, I am all in… I have actually just visited Hungary after a 5 year break, and there was no day without the white or green pepper there…. When we left Hungary 15 years ago there were so many things I missed. Today if I have to name only one thing I really miss, it will definitely be the peppers. I am lucky to have access to very good Hungarian peppers at the Santa Monica farmers market. And now we are also going to grow it in our plot with Kelley, so I am hoping to have continuous access to good quality peppers.
BUT back to these roasted shishito peppers… I had way too many of them roasted and also having lots of summer squash in the fridge so I decided to make a zucchini pasta with a roasted pepper tahini sauce.
Simply spiralize the zucchini and either blanch it for 2 minutes in rapidly boiling water or if you are on a raw diet, marinate with salt, black pepper and lemon juice for 15 minutes. This will do the “cooking”. For the sauce blend roasted peppers with some of the tahini sauce, adding more water and lemon juice if needed. You will need a pretty thin sauce in order not to have a heavy dish. To serve mix zucchini noodles with the sauce and top with with blistered cherry tomatoes and baby arugula. You can also add a sesame parmesan which is simply white sesame seeds blended with equal amount of nutritional yeast and a pinch of salt.