Eat these now: Shishito Peppers

grilled shishito peppers


This mild pepper from Japan has become quite the culinary rage over the last handful of years.  I first had them as a snack in a benefit cooking master class for Slow Food NYC, and have been growing them in my garden ever since.

Shishito peppers are slender, bright green, and about the length of your index finger.  They are super flavorful yet mild, with about one in a dozen delivering a memorable amount of heat.  Consider it a party game.

I love serving a huge platter of grilled shishitos with cold cocktails at the start of a big summer dinner party.  Quick, easy, impressive, slightly unusual and pretty much universally adored--there should be no hesitation in adding these to the menu.  Padron peppers can be prepared and served the same way, but will be hotter in flavor overall.

We are in high shishito season right now, so keep an eye out at the market, and definitely grow your own next summer.

Grilled Shishito Peppers

Fresh Shishito Peppers
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt

Grilled shishitos always fly off the platter when I serve them.  Plan for at least 3-4 per person, if not many more.  

Wash the peppers and dry thoroughly.

In a large bowl, toss peppers with a generous pour of olive oil, until evenly coated.

Grill on high medium-heat until evenly blistered and slightly charred.

Remove peppers from grill and transfer directly to a serving platter.  Sprinkle with kosher or other coarse salt, and a very liberal squeeze of fresh lemon juice.  Serve immediately with additional lemon wedges.

grilled shishito pepper tapas

Rhubarb and White Cherry Ice Pop

I'm back.

My hands have been very, delightfully full these last many months, but I feel like we are all finally starting to figure out a good rhythm together.  And being a mom is, well, utterly remarkable, and it is hard to not devour every minute.

Even with our full hands, we did manage to get our gardens in this year.  Even more square footage than last year, as I am more able bodied this summer and can actually do something.  More plants, more varieties, more of everything.  And so far it is all looking strong and healthy.  I cannot wait to cook with all of it.  I walk through the rows and see recipes everywhere.

I have also had my first food pieces and photographs in print, in the months since the baby has been born.  There is a beautiful one year old magazine in our area called Green Door, and I have been so honored to do pieces for their last three issues.

In the latest issue I have a piece on gourmet farmers' market popsicles.  Three great recipes, which we have been enjoying ourselves, very frequently, since the weather turned warm. (The magazine is on sale throughout the Hudson valley, in New York City, for download, as well as subscriptions.)

There was one other ice pop recipe that was gnawing at me as I was developing the recipes for the article: Rhubarb.  However, there was no rhubarb to be found to recipe test with in the spring when the piece was due.  So at last, with piles of ruby stalks covering market tables, I was able to give it a try.

Rhubarb is indeed sour, yet in a perfect, summer way.  It is almost always paired with strawberries to balance its tartness.  I opted instead for beautiful white cherries that were on the next market stand over.  The fresh in-season cherries gave the whole mixture a really mellow sweetness, and the combination with the very tart rhubarb results in a overall sour cherry flavor, which is one of my favorites.

The sugar amount below is just a guideline.  Certainly your cherries' sweetness will vary.  Taste the mixture and adjust to  your liking.  However, keep in mind that when frozen a good portion of the perception of sweetness will be deadened by the cold, so the mixture should taste a bit more sweet at room temperature than you are shooting for.

Happy summer.


makes four three-ounce pops.

2 cups fresh rhubarb, sliced thin
1 cup white cherries, pitted and halved
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups water

Wash the rhubarb and gently peel off some of the tough outer strands, much like peeling celery. Cut into thin slices.

Combine rhubarb, cherries, water and sugar in a small pot.  Simmer over medium-low heat for about seven minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and the rhubarb is soft.

Allow the mixture to cool.  Transfer to a food processor or blender and pulse until slightly pureed, but with some pieces of fruit still remaining.

Fill ice pop molds and freeze for at least six hours to overnight.

To unmold, briefly dip the bottom of the mold in a bowl of warm water.




Market Watch: Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash at the Jean-Talon market in Montreal.

A complete delight and mystery, spaghetti squash was my favorite vegetable growing up.  Though not terribly popular or widely available in the late 70s, somehow my grandmother was able to procure one at least once a fall.  Into the oven as a hard, nubby, squash, then magically out of the oven and onto my plate, transformed into golden pasta-like strands that surprised me each time.

Becoming much more common and available now, spaghetti squash are all over the markets (and my garden), and will be for months.  It is technically a winter squash--ripening at this point in the season, and able to be kept in cold storage long into the cold weather--but with its golden color and light, buttery texture, is much more reminiscent of summer squash.  A welcome bit of variety in a long season of dense, orange-fleshed cousins.

Generally the rule of thumb is that spaghetti squash will keep for up to a month in a cool, dry area.  Though the past couple of years, we have successfully kept ours that we grew for 3-5 months on a well aerated shelf in our basement, keeping an eye out for any that might be getting soft or imploding.  Rubbing the outside surface with a thin coating of vegetable oil is said to keep fungus and mold spores from being able to take root on the surface of the squash, cutting down on deterioration, and extending their shelf life considerably.

To cook

Wash and dry the squash well, and cut in half lengthwise.  This will be the hardest step.  Make sure it is well dried, so your knife doesn't slip, and if helpful, cut off a small portion of either end to give yourself a more steady anchor.  Scoop out the seeds and stringy flesh surrounding the seeds.  Rub the inside of each half with olive oil and place, cut side down, on a baking sheet.  Roast in the oven at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes, until the skin just starts to give when pressed with your finger.  Don't over cook, or allow to sit cut side down on the baking dish for long after removed from the oven, or it will become mushy and the strands will not be as nicely defined.

When cool enough to handle, gentle pull the strands of the squash away from the sides with a fork, scraping right down to the skin.

Very neutral in flavor, with a great, mildly crunchy texture, the spaghetti-like strands of the squash are a terrific blank canvas for a limitless variety of toppings.   Pesto, garlic and olive oil, tomato sauce, puttanesca, meatballs, bolognese, or just butter with freshly grated parmesan cheese are all perfect pairings.  I am also a huge fan of the spaghetti squash casserole recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook.

With just forty-two calories and ten grams of carbohydrates per cup of cooked squash, this is a great side dish alternative to explore.  Grab one at the farmers' markets this weekend.



One more bit of cherry tomato inspiration with which to send you off into the weekend…

I just discovered the Telepan TV channel on youtube.  Bill Telepan is one of my most favorite NYC chefs, who I had the great, great pleasure of cooking with for many months that the start of his inspirational and important Wellness in the Schools school lunch campaign.

He has started to put together videos, sharing some of his incredible recipes from his incredible restaurant Telepan.  The three recipes using cherry tomatoes in the video above are making me very. very. hungry.

Run! and get some cherry tomatoes at the markets this weekend while they are still available (we had a frost at our house last night!).


Though disappearing soon, cherry tomatoes are still adorning the tables of the farmers markets, and a few are hanging on to the vines for dear life in our gardens.

I am trying to take advantage of them now as much as I can, as I know that too shortly I'll be making deals with the devil to have that flavor available to me in more blustery months.  One of my favorite recipes is Roasted Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette, which can also be canned for use later on, and I made sure was on the menu at my wedding.  Another is the outrageously delicious Caramelized Cherry Tomato Tarte Tatin, from the New York Times a few years back, that is so good I felt like I was tasting a cherry tomato for the very first time.

Seize the moment, and get these juicy gems while you can.

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Catie Baumer Schwalb is a chef, food writer and photographer, who splits her life between the city and the country. Not too long ago Catie was a New York City based actress and playwright for more than a decade. She has her Master of Fine Arts from the National Theater Conservatory, and her Grand Diplôme in classic culinary arts from the French Culinary Institute in New York City. ... Read More

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