A Summer-y, Hearty Grain Salad with Shishito-Cilantro Dressing

I’m new to this shishito pepper bandwagon, but now that I’m on it I don’t plan on getting off any time soon!  Shishitos are a Japanese variety of pepper that are mellow and slightly sweet, except for the occasional spicy one hiding in the bunch.  Their preparation is simple and quick. In a hot cast iron pan with a bit of olive oil, the peppers are sautéd until the skin is blistered. Sprinkled liberally with sea salt and served with a cool dip, such as this one from The Kitchn, they make the perfect snack or appetizer.  I could eat these every. single. day.

That being said, I had been dreaming of another way to use them and I kept going back to some sort of a dressing, sauce or dip.  So here we are.  Use to dip vegetables, dress your salads or eat right off the spoon like I did.


Shishito-Cilantro Dressing


  • 18 shishito peppers (about 1 ½ cups)
  • 2 small garlic cloves
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • approximately 1 ½ tbs cilantro, chopped
  • 1-2 tbs avocado oil (olive oil would work just fine) for sautéing peppers
  • 1/3 -½ cup avocado oil for dressing
  • salt + pepper to taste

Heat a medium cast iron skillet with a tablespoon or so of avocado (or olive) oil. Once the pan is hot, toss in the shishito peppers and stir occasionally until their skin is blistered.  Transfer to a plate to cool.

In a high-speed blender, add the cooled shishito peppers (stems removed), garlic, shallot, lime juice, cilantro, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Start blender on medium speed and drizzle oil through the top until all ingredients are emulsified.  Increase speed of blender if needed.  Season with more salt and pepper if desired.

For the grain salad:

This grain salad is a very hearty, carb-y dish…but don’t let that deter you.  It is delicious and filling!

The only changes I might make would be to use roasted cherry tomatoes instead of diced fresh ones as well as serving it atop some crunchy Romaine or butter lettuce.  Alas, I didn’t have either one on hand but still thoroughly enjoyed this meal.  My husband threw his two cents in by letting me know that bacon would have been a welcome addition as well.  As we all know, bacon makes everything better, so take that for what you will.  Also, if you don’t have barley on hand I imagine almost any hearty grain would work too, such as wheat berries or farro.


  • 1 ½ cups cooked pearl barley
  • 1-2 cups sweet corn kernels (about 2 ears of corn), charred
  • 1 lb teeny tiny potatoes, roasted
    • I got mine at Trader Joe’s and they’re actually called teeny tiny potatoes, however chopped fingerlings would work as well
  • 18-20 shishito peppers, blistered
  • ½ tomato, seeded and diced
  • 3 radishes, sliced lengthwise and chopped into half moons
  • Cotija cheese, for topping
  • salt + pepper


Serves 4 normal people, 2 gluttons like us

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place raw ears of corn on grill, or over an open flame, rotating and turning them until the kernels are charred and crispy. You’ll know when they’re done!  Take cobs off the flame and move to a plate to cool.  Once cool, slice off the kernels from the cob into a bowl and set aside.

Halve, quarter or dice potatoes (depending on how big they are) into bite-sized pieces.  Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and toss with a glug of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Roast in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until crispy.  Remove from oven and set aside when done.

While the potatoes are roasting, you should be able to blister the remainder of the shishito peppers, and chop the onion, radishes and tomato.

In a serving dish, layer the barley and corn first.  Next, add the crispy potatoes then shishito peppers, tomato and radishes.  Liberally drizzle the shishito-cilantro dressing over the salad.  Finally, top with crumbled Cotija cheese.  Serve and enjoy!

image image

Eat this to your heart’s content.  Or stomach’s.  Or both!

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