One of my favorite things to do, apart from cooking, is to visit good local food shops and farmers’ markets to find inspiration from what I see. This Sunday, I went to my favorite farmers’ market – the Newburyport Farmers’ Market – to shop for fresh produce for the week. My first stop was Middle Earth Farm, where I found teeny green peppers called Padrone. I asked what they were and whether they were mild or hot. Turns out, Padrone can be both - these puppies get hotter as they grow.
It was recommended that I start off with the smallest ones. When I asked the best way to prepare them, and I was told they can be sauteed whole – seeds, stems and all - in a little olive oil. Nice.
I hit up a couple more stalls at the market, including Valicenti Organico Pasta, which offers a great variety of fresh pasta, handmade in Hollis, NH. They have a huge list of insanely creative and delicious sounding pasta and ravioli. Everything looked fantastic. Since I have no skill whatsoever at making homemade pasta (being three or four generations removed from Italy will do that), I decided to pick up a package of Truffle Pappardelle (wide noodles) and Herbed Chevre & Honey Ravioli.
I’d been craving a good pasta dish for a while. As I mentioned above, however, I’m not the greatest pasta maker, and there’s something about dumping a box of dried pasta into a pot that somehow strikes me as unappealing and/or not interesting. Fortunately, Valicenti does all the work for you with their perfect pasta and expert combinations of ravioli fillings. I’m not getting paid to say that. I just really like their pasta. In fact, this is the first post I’ve written with a product name in the title.
Tonight, dear reader, we enjoyed both the padrone peppers and the super-awesomeness that is Valicenti’s Herbed Chevre & Honey Ravioli. The combination, along with some caramelized shallots offered a fantastic sweet and bitter/spicy combination.
If you’re near Newburyport and happen to be around for the farmers’ market on Sundays, I recommend picking up pardone peppers from the Middle Earth Farm table before they’re out of season, and I definitely recommend the Herbed Chevre and Honey Ravioli from Valicenti. If not, try out this recipe with anther ravioli, as long as it’s sweet, and if you can’t find padrone peppers near where you live, you could probably get a similar result using another small, mild, young pepper with a tender stem.
Sweet Ravioli with Padrone Peppers – serves 2
2 T olive oil, plus some to drizzle
2 shallots, diced
1/2 C small padrone peppers, or other small, mild peppers with a tender, edible stem
12 oz. sweet ravioli, cooked according to directions
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring water to a simmer in a large stockpot.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil to medium in a small skillet. Add the shallots. Cook until translucent, stirring occasionally to prevent them from burning.
Lower heat and add the peppers. Allow to soften on low for about 10 minutes.
Drain the ravioli. Toss with an extra drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Plate the ravioli, and top with the pepper/shallot mix.