The Happy Hour Pepper

Walking through a market in an Italian village of any size generally means walking by some of the best looking vegetables you’ve ever seen. Stacks of gorgeous artichokes, eggplants, and asparagus tempt you. Rows of baby zucchini - lined up with their flowers in a bright row - beg to be adopted. But what's this then? There in a basket to the side, some of the homeliest twisted little green peppers you can imagine. Thank the Heavens! The friggitelli are here!

 It sounds unlikely, but these peppers are a fantastic snack. When you and your guests sit down with drinks and friggitelli, your dinner plans may be delayed. Although native to the Americas like all peppers, this variety of pepper, along with the Pedron peppers of Galicia, seem uniquely suited to this treatment. Also called friarelli, we're told, they are not available at every store, and they appear toward late spring or early summer. They are basically a sweet pepper, although the occasional seed may have a touch of hot to it.

Buy enough to nearly cover the bottom of your biggest frying pan (preferably cast iron or nonstick). Wash the peppers, dry them…and start the heat - on high.  Put a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in the pan, then put in the whole  peppers. Stand back, they’re going to spatter! Now wait intrepidly while they sizzle. Total cooking time will be in the range of 5 to 7 minutes. The goal is to lightly char the peppers quickly, so they don’t really cook entirely through, but retain some crunch. If you can resist moving them constantly, it’s better. When you have dark patches on one side, flip them.  When they have dark brown patches in a couple of places (say about 1/5 of the surface), dump them on a plate and sprinkle with a little coarse-grained salt.

Pour the white wine or beer  – heaven.

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Written by Martha