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Jimmy Nardello

My first encounter with Jimmy Nardello is probably 3 years ago at Sunnyvale Farmer’s Market. A long green pepper with many twists and turns. They looked lethal to me. “What is it?” “Italian pepper. Sweet!“

At home, William lightly brushed them with olive oil then salt. Put on a hot grill until they went limp. Man, were they good.

Indeed no heat what so ever. Thin flesh and thin skinned, its pepper flavor is not strong or earthy like green bell peppers but decisively fruity. Better yet, cooking is SO easy.

No chopping, deseeding or de-skinning. Just roast it whole either on a grill or in a hot oven. You can peel the skin as you go like my very civilized husband. Or, follow Steward of Gondor and me, devour everything. The skin is too thin to bother and the few seeds are just more nutrients. The only thing I put back on the plate is the stem.

Since then, every summer at Farmer’s Market, and only at Asian stands for whatever reason, I see its appearance as the signal to summer.

A couple of months ago, they showed up at Full Circle Farm. “What is it?!” I could barely contain myself. Rose patiently spelt out: “J.i.m.m.y. N.a.r.d.e.l.l.o”.

Hello Jimmy, it’s about time we are introduced properly.

Oven Roasted Jimmy Nardello

Brought over by an Italian immigrant to Connecticut in 1887, this pepper is named after his 4th son who donated the seeds to Seed Savers Exchange, and now it is registered on Slow Food USA’s Ark of Tastes.

At farmer’s markets or Whole Foods, you can only find green Jimmy Nardello. But as they mature they turn flaming red and become sweeter and even fruitier. Equally delicious.

As far as I know, Full Circle Farm is the only place that sells red Jimmy Nardello as well as the green ones. Do a side by side tasting and judge for yourself.

Seasoning-wise, all it needs is a little oil and salt. If you don’t have a grill, do it in the oven for a comparable result. Line the peppers more or less a single layer. Some overlapping is fine. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Broil at 450F for 10-12 minutes until you see the charred marks. Then turn each one to the other side for another 10-12 minutes. Generously sprinkle with kosher salt and serve.

If you line your baking sheet with foil and parchment paper like I do, there isn’t any pot or pan to clean afterwards. This has got to be the most mom-friendly vegetable.

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