If you ever had the opportunity to visit a Spanish tapas bar, there is a good chance that you will have been introduced to Pimientos de Padrón already. This dish is one of the most loved and celebrated tapas dishes out there. No wonder that it is a popular dish though, because it is mouth-wateringly delicious. It is perfect if you, like me, long for some sunshine during the winter months. Furthermore, it’s super quick and easy to make, which means you can rustle up this authentic Spanish snack in no time. Great for guests in the afternoon, and certainly a must for any well-made tapas buffet.
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What is pimientos de Padrón
This particular type of pepper, or Pimiento in Spanish, takes its name from the Spanish Town of Padrón. Located in the Coruna province in the northwest corner of Spain, the locals have been growing these little peppers for ages. Over time the cultivation has spread to southern Spain as well, and they are widely grown in Mexico and some southern American states. Actually, it is believed that Franciscan monks brought the peppers back to Spain from the new world in the 16th century.
The peppers are normally harvested quite early in the season, as early as mid-May in fact. At this point, they are still quite small, usually no more than four to six centimetres. Fortunately, the peppers are nowadays grown mostly in greenhouses, meaning they are available all year round.
A fun fact about the Pimientos de Padrón is that it is a game of chance if a pepper is hot or mild! Most of them are mild in taste with a slight savoury bitterness to them. However approximately one out of every ten is rather hot and spicy. This means that eating a dich of Pimientos de Padrón becomes a sort of Russian roulette.
The traditional way to prepare the Pimientos de Padrón is simply to fry them in oil until the skin starts to turn golden. Serve them immediately on a big plate, sprinkle with sea last and let everybody dig in to share. When you are with more people it is always funny to see who ends up with one of the spicy peppers, especially if the guest is unprepared for this! As you can see this dish is so simple that it takes literally no time at all to prepare a batch of delicious Pimientos de Padrón. The important thing though is to make it absolutely last minute, so that the peppers are smoking hot when served.
It can sometimes be tricky to find Pimientos de Padrón in the stores and don’t expect to stumble upon them in every supermarket. Unfortunately, there are not really a good substitute for this unique vegetable. It’s best to look around for them and talk to shops that sell Spanish delicacies. They are often able to get them or they can point you in the right direction as to where to find them.
If you have a strong stomach or just can’t get enough of spicy food you could try to make it with Jalapenos. Personally, I don’t think I would risk it though.
Now, I admit it is not strictly the traditional way to serve Pimientos de Padrón with any type of sauce at all. However, I quite enjoy to serve it with a little side of the Spanish garlic mayonnaise, aioli. If you already know how to make your own mayonnaise, you will have no problem at all making an aioli. If you haven’t tried, just give it a go. It’s much easier than you might think. Simply start up a mayonnaise as you normally would with egg yolk, some sherry vinegar, a little mustard and a pinch of salt. In addition, you add a crushed clove of garlic before whisking in the oil.
Remember to start with only a few droplets of oil and then gradually increase the amount. Dip the fried Pimientos de Padrón in the aioli and enjoy!
You can serve Pimientos de Padrón as a standalone dish for a snack, as aperitif or party food. If you want to go full on Spanish though, you have to serve it with three to four other tapas dishes, in order to have a real tapas feast. If you have some friends over for a nice tapas table, it will almost feel like you are on holiday in Spain. Don’t forget to sprinkle them with salt flakes while hot on the plate! Some bread of good quality on the side is also recommended.
Drinks to go with tapas
The Spanish often drink dry sherry with their tapas. Sherry is a much more complex wine to buy than you might think, so here it is good to team up with your local wine merchant. A cheap bottle from the lower shelves in the supermarket or from the back of granny’s front room cupboard will not do good tapas justice. If sherry is not to your taste or you find it has too much alcohol for a meal, simply choose a white wine of your liking. It can be a dry wine with mineral notes or a fruitier one, depending on what you like.
Alternatively, you can serve your tapas with a refreshing homemade lemonade. That will also help you cool down if you happen to get one of the spicy Pimientos de Padrón!
If you made too big of batch then not to worry! The little green peppers can easily be incorporated into other dishes, such as curries or casseroles. I think it is important that we use our leftovers in order to avoid wasting food. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that food has to be boring. For instance, I made some dishes with leftover turkey over Christmas and they were extremely tasty.
The Pimientos de Padrón can be used in rice dishes such as a curry, sandwich, or as a side for meat or with baked potatoes – even sliced up in a salad! Therefore don’t be afraid to make too many. There is always something else the Pimientos can be used for.
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Founded in 2015, Vic’s Kitchen produces non-processed and sugar free vegan friendly cooking sauces, inspired by the exotic flavours from Africa.
Our main mission is to promote food awareness and conscious eating through our products. All of our sauces are made from fresh ingredients and jarred with no preservatives, vinegars or sugars. The hamper will include 3 sauces of various flavours for the pleasure of our winner.
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Pimientos de Padrón
Author: Michelle Minnaar
- 225g (½ lb) padron peppers, washed
- 30ml (2 tbsp) vegetable oil
- 2.5ml (½ tsp) coarse sea salt
- Wash the peppers in cold water and pat them dry. Keep them intact.
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy based frying pan.
- Place the peppers in a single layer. Cook it in batches if you need to.
- Fry for 5 minutes or until their skins start browning.
- Remove from the heat and serve immediately with a sprinkling of salt.
Courses Side Dish
Serving Size 1 serving
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Total Fat 7 g
Saturated Fat 1.4 g
Sodium 246 mg
Total Carbohydrates 2.6 g
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Sugars 1.4 g
Protein 0.5 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.