If you can find padron peppers, run and buy some! These small and mild padron peppers are the perfect tapa or appetizer. The padron peppers are stuffed with melty cheese and served over a bright and flavorful romesco sauce.
What are Padron Peppers
Padron peppers are small green peppers that grow in Padron, Spain. We found them at a little pintxos bar in San Sebastian, Spain and fell in love! (Check out A Food Lovers Unedited View of Spain on some of our favorite Spain moments!) Padron peppers are small and usually served simply charred with a sprinkle of salt and lemon.
Padron peppers may be harder to find in the stores in the U.S., but shishito peppers are a very close substitute. Both styles of peppers are mild but one can surprise you with a bit of heat.
You can often find padron peppers or shishito peppers at International markets, such as an Asian market.
Stuffed Padron Peppers
Padron peppers have a perfect pocket for stuffing a nice chunk of melty cheese. Other ideas to stuff padron peppers are cubed feta cheese or stuffed with cream cheese, crumbled chorizo and creamy goat cheese.
Homemade Romesco Sauce
To continue the Spanish theme, the stuffed padron peppers are served on top of a tangy romesco sauce.
Romesco is a popular Spanish "sauce" with loads of intense flavors coming from dried chiles, roasted peppers, tomatoes, hazelnuts and stale bread for texture. All you need is a food processor to blend the sauce together and may I suggest making a double batch? I love slathering romesco sauce on sandwiches, crostini or served with roasted vegetables.
You can make romesco sauce gluten free by omitting the bread (the nuts will still provide good texture) or substituting with stale gluten free bread.
More Tapas and Appetizers to Try:
Queso Stuffed Padron Peppers Over Romesco
- 3 dried ancho peppers seeds and stems removed
- 3 large tomatoes cut in half
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 garlic bulb cut in half
- 1 cup toasted hazelnuts
- 1 cup slivered or sliced toasted almonds
- 1 slice of stale or dry bread
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ cup water if needed
- Few dashes of sherry or red wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 8 ounces Padron peppers or shishito peppers
- 4 ounces Oaxaca or mazorella cheese cut into cubes
- Olive oil for drizzling
- Flakey sea salt for garnish
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Add bell pepper and tomatoes and and drizzle everything with olive oil, salt and pepper. Wrap garlic bulb in foil and add to baking sheet.
- Roast vegetables for 25-30 minutes until tomatoes and peppers are softened and slightly charred. Once done, set aside to cool for a few minutes, then remove the thick outer peel from the peppers and tomato, leaving behind the tender flesh. Remove roasted garlic cloves from bulb.
- While vegetables are roasting, soak the dried peppers in warm water for 10 minutes to soften.
- In a large food processor, add the roasted bell pepper, tomatoes, garlic cloves, dried ancho peppers, nuts, bread, olive oil and a few dashes of red wine vinegar.
- Pulse everything together until smooth. If it is too thick, add a few dashes of water until desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper and taste for seasoning.
- Prep the padron peppers by cutting off the stem and cutting. aslit in the pepper, to create a pocket and remove the seeds.
- Place 2-3 small cubes of cheese into the pepper and place on a foil lined baking sheet.
- Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and toast peppers for 15-20 minutes until the cheese melts and pepper begins to char.
- To serve, spread romesco sauce on serving plate and top stuffed padron peppers on top. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and sea salt.
What kind of queso should I buy for the stuffed padrones?
Hi Leighann! Anything with a good "stretch/melt", such as oaxaca cheese or mozzarella would be awesome!
David Winsberg says
We were the first to introduce the Padrón peppers to the culinary scene here in the US over 10 years ago. We learned that the nature of the pepper is hot. To be tapa grade requires special nurture. We now label our product "tapa grade" as we have learned how to produce Padrón peppers with the proper 1 out of 10 hot to not ratio. Watch out when you buy others, most have given the wrong impression as you note of Melissa's. Consequently shishitos have been popularized as an acceptable replacement. I don't want to denegrate shishitos but for flavor and texture they are a weak stand in for tapas.
Hi David! Thank you for the comment! I have to say, nothing will ever compare to the padron peppers we enjoyed in Spain...the flavor was exceptional and I am sure the atmosphere made it even better! I have tried to find a replacement here in the US, but nothing ever compared. I guess it will just have to stay as a wonderful memory for now 🙂
My French mother has always said that Americans grow all produce bigger, sometimes to the point of tastelessness. I don't know if that's a true, but produce in Europe is always impressive. And I've been to all of the western countries except for Wales.
This appetizer is beautiful! I wish I could sample it.
Joy of Cooking! Such a great resource for any cook or baker.
Amanda P says
I've recently become obsessed with Weelicious lunches cook book.
Gerry @ foodness gracious says
Love all of these books!