I received these dried Italian peppers from Zingermans several weeks ago but have not been quite sure what to do with them. I never would have thought to order them on my own, but it is my foodie duty to check them out since they are listed as #96 Peperoni Cruschi on Food & Wine's 100 Tastes to Try.
Very mild chiles from the Massimo family in Basilicato are dried in the sun for a few weeks, fried in a bit of the farm’s own olive oil, then salted. The result is a sweet, smoky, salty, crispy sensation that’s quite habit forming.
I love roasted peppers, especially covered in olive oil and salt. But these are dried and I was not quite sure what to expect. I am told then can be eaten straight, maybe as part of an antipasti platter. And indeed I did try them this way. Honestly, they are just okay. They have some crunch, which is nice, but I don't really associate crunch with roasted peppers. As you can probably tell, I much prefer regular roasted peppers over these. And they should not even be compared because they are not even the same thing. But I just love roasted, oily and salty peppers so much . . .
My love of roasted peppers aside, these Peperoni Cruschi are a good way to add a unique bit of pepper flavor to food. I crunched them up and sprinkled them over some pasta. The flavor isn't over powering and it added an interesting texture to the dish. So they do have their unique place in the foodie world. But at $19 for about 15 small peppers and a $10 shipping charge, I will not be ordering them again.