I use to start my Jimmy Nardello and Shishito sweet peppers inside under lights the first week of March but since they take so long to germinate and grow out to tranplanting size, I started buying them from Agua Fria Nursery in the past few years. When the nursery ran out of these sweet peppers last spring, I was bummed. Not only because they didn’t have those varieties but also because it takes peppers 8-10 weeks to grow from seed to transplanting size which is why one needs to start them super early or buy in a nursery. I thought I had run out of time.
My best friend, Lava, from Germany had saved some sweet red pepper seeds that her son gave her from a farmers market in Germany. She described them as long red, sweet, thick walled peppers but didn’t know the name. I had the seeds for a few years but didn’t try them since I was hooked on the ‘Jimmys’. In my desperation, I decided to try to grow them out late. I grew four of them from her seeds and to my surprise, they are a type of Corno di Toro (horn of the bull or bull’s horn pepper). We don’t actually know which variety of the Corno di Toro peppers they are and there are several. I named this one Lava Red pepper after her. Corno di Toro peppers are named after their shape and are a type of Italian frying peppers that are sweet green or red but if you let them turn red, they are a little bit sweeter.
Now at Harry’s Roadhouse here in Santa Fe, I remembered (seems so long ago) they serve some kind of sweet grilled peppers strips in their house salad which I love. So I decided to grill the Lava Red peppers as I now call them and take off the skins like what we do for our hot green chilies here in New Mexico. But before I grilled them, I saved some seeds to freshen up my supply of seeds for future use.
Notice I put one of those dessicant packets (from my vitamin bottles) in with the seeds to make sure they are completely dry. Then I will remove it later.
Normally they would be grilled on the BBQ till the skins are black and then cooled in cold water and the skins slide off from the peppers, leaving the sweet pepper meat. This steps takes a little more work but the flavor of the skinless peppers is superb and well worth the effort.
The night I wanted to grill them was way too cold outside (in the 20’s) to be standing by the BBQ so I decided to grill them in my fireplace in my house while I watched the World Series. I made a fire of cedar wood and put a small portable grill over the hot coals.
Then I sat there and grilled my peppers over the cedar wood coals. The smell is fantastic and the flavor of the peppers is sweet and the cedar coals added a subtle smoky nuance to them.
I use them in scrambled eggs, on my salads, in sandwiches and I’m sure there will be many other ways to use them. I got 5 lbs of grilled peppers!
They are now one of my favorites. I like the thick walls and sweet flavor. Isn’t it funny, I was forced to try something new and it turned out fantastic! So try some Corno di Toro peppers next year, you won’t be disappointed! You can also eat this pepper raw as well!