In Spain, Padrón peppers (now widely available in the US) are often sautéed in olive oil, then salted and served as a tapa. But they can be stuffed, too, as this riff on jalapeño poppers proves. Although their twisted shapes make them more difficult to stuff, shishitos can be substituted for Padróns.
- 12 fresh Padrón peppers (handpick the largest and the straightest)
- 2 ounces very thinly sliced Serrano ham or prosciutto
- 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 4 ounces grated Manchego cheese
- 1 tablespoon finely minced chives or scallion greens
- 1 1/4 cups panko bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil for easier clean-up. Lay the ham slices on the parchment and bake for 6 to 8 minutes, or until beginning to crisp. Remove from the oven and transfer the ham to a cutting board. Let cool, then chop or crumble into small pieces. Set aside. Reserve the baking sheet; you’ll need it for the poppers.
Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F. Using a sharp knife, slice the peppers in half lengthwise, preserving the stems, if possible. Use the edge of a metal spoon to remove the seeds and ribs.
In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, the Manchego, chives, and chopped ham. Fill the pepper halves with the mixture using a spoon or a piping bag. In another bowl, combine the panko with the olive oil. Dip each popper into the panko, filling side down. If necessary, press the panko with your fingers to make sure it adheres. Dust each popper lightly with pimentón.
Arrange the poppers in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the peppers have softened and the panko is golden brown. Let the poppers cool slightly. Arrange on a plate or platter and serve immediately.
Serves 4 — Recipe courtesy of the Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club