Just when it actually starts to feel like a typical Los Angeles summer, the Weiser Family Farms booth rolls out the Padron pepper, a Spanish pimienton that Weiser has been growing here for a few years. And like the days we've had in July and August, some are hot and some are not. The oft quoted statistic is only one in 10 will scorch your taste buds. So if you're willing to play a vegetable version of Russian roulette, stand by with a nice chilly beer.
The best way to have these is the traditional Spanish way – fried in olive oil with salt. “It reminds me of Spain,” says Alex Weiser. And indeed this little pepper is so popular there that the valley where they are harvested holds an annual festival in their honor. Weiser also suggested stuffing them with a light cheese, but a modified chiles rellenos wouldn't be a bad idea either. The not-hot peppers have a pleasing green and grassy flavor to them when raw. Cooked in oil, their sweetness comes forward, with just a slight hint of nuttiness. That one-in-10 is the reason why the most popular way to have them is with beer. It can be Serrano spicy, especially in these later season harvests.
The Padrons are a pale springy green, and are thin-fleshed and pliable. Take a look at the stems to determine freshness. Look for a sturdy, unwrinkled stem that's green all the way to the cut point. Weiser sells these for $3 per basket, which makes them an easy add to your summer tapas menu. Telling your guests about the random spicy one is entirely up to you. Just keep the beer handy.