Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine

If you've never understood the beauty of a charred shishito pepper, there is no time like the present to join in on the fun. Only requiring a few simple ingredients, this quick, easy veggie treat is just what you're going to want to munch on.

July 20, 2017

I like to think that summer produce and I have a good thing going. This breezy, healthy relationship is manifested in many exciting, veggie-forward ways, and charring shishitos is at the top of that list. With an intense char, these green, slender beauties are a simple, fresh snack that are perfect for a lazy summer side or an impressive app for entertaining. Regardless, the process is as straightforward and effortless as one can imagine, and the result is mind-blowingly flavorful and delicious.

Aside from the peppers (which you can buy in a neat little package at Trader Joe’s for $3), all you need is a cast-iron skillet, olive oil, citrus, salt, and a whole lot of heat. Start by bringing your sturdy cast-iron to a scorching hot temperature. Toss your shishitos (stems and all) in a generous guzzle of extra-virgin olive oil and salt, and add them to pan, making sure not to overcrowd the space. This may require cooking them in a couple of batches depending on the size of your skillet, but if your shishitos are all up in each other’s business, they won’t char quite as nicely. Let them cook for about 3 minutes, or until there is a visible sear on the pan-side. Then, using tongs, turn them to the other side for another 3 minutes. This part of the process is particularly satisfying as you get to listen to your lil’ peppers whistling away in the pan while they acquire a handsome char. Feel the burn, people.

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This next part, as simple as it is, is absolutely key to the success of your peppers. Once you’ve taken them off the heat, hit them with a squirt of fresh citrus (whether it be lemon or lime, you can make that decision). This added layer of fresh tang brightens the charred peppers without adding too much complexity to such a delightfully uncomplicated dish. Once you’ve hit them with the citrus, give them another light sprinkle of salt, toss it all together in a serving bowl—and you, you’re ready to party. When it comes time to yam on ‘em, make sure you’ve got a discard bowl in sight for your stem-disposing pleasures. If you’re up for it, go ahead and whip up a fresh aioli or cream-based dipping sauce to go along with them. However, as they say, one out of every 12 or so of these peppers boasts a significantly spicier flavor, so don’t go seeking out any condiment that’s going to put you over the edge. Because why mess with what you got, when you’ve got a good thing going, right?

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