Padrón Pepper Margherita Pizza {gluten-free}

Margherita pizza gets an update from piquant padrón peppers, a touch of chèvre, and a gluten-free, whole-grain crust. 

Our favorite nightshades are in season and Jay and I can’t get enough of the little green devils. (In fact, we’re a whole family of capsicum lovers – Catamus sits at the table as we munch, eating the stems. He’s weird.) Usually we fry them up with olive oil and sea salt, but when we crave something more substantial, we tuck them into tacos, press them into savory cornbread, put them on pizza, or fold them into sprouted wheat tortillas along with melted cheese, chopped cherry tomatoes, salsa and avocado.

Tiny padróns are full-flavored peppers that hail from Spain. They aren’t sweet the way bell peppers are, and only about 1 in 10 or 20 is spicy, thus earning them the nickname “pepper roulette.” I’ve heard that since peppers cross-breed easily, if you get a batch of über-hot padróns, they’ve probably been contaminated by a spicy cousin. My favorite farms for padróns in Northern California are Riverdog and Happy Boy; both produce consistently delicate peppers. Otherwise, the best way to go about padrón vetting is to buy a small basket, cook them up, see how many are inedibly spicy and give you hiccups when you take a teeny nibble. If they’re safe, then go back to the same place and snap them up. Another way to avoid the spice is to look for peppers that are small – preferably 1-2 inches in length – and a matte dark green. As the peppers mature, they develop more heat as well as a shiny, thick skin and lighter color that eventually explodes into bright red.

Today I put the peppers on my favorite GF pizza crust, which is full of flavorful flours and free of gums, using ground chia seed and a bit of tapioca flour to create a dough that’s extensible enough to trap air bubbles and bake up into a crispy base for all manner of toppings. We couldn’t wait to tuck into gooey mozzarella, juicy cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, creamy chèvre, and the star of the show: piquant padróns.

I kept this pizza pretty simple with just the usual margherita suspects plus padróns and a bit of goat cheese. But do feel free to go wild. I imagine that some other good additions here could be marinara sauce, roasted garlic, slivered red onion, olives, lemon zest, cilantro pesto, or jamon serrano for omnivores.

Look for padróns at farmer’s markets and well-stocked grocers. If they aren’t about, feel free to use other peppers here such as banana peppers, gypsies, bells, or even roasted poblanos or anaheims for a bit of pep in your pizza.

Buon appetiti!

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Own the padrón:

Farmer’s Market Cornbread with Sweet Corn, Tomatoes, and Padróns {gluten-free}
Padrón Pepper and Goat Cheese Tacos

Pizza pizza:

Smokey Brussels Sprout Pizza with Lemon and Chile {gluten-free}
Grilled Pizza with Peas, Lemon and Mint {gluten-free}
Roasted Eggplant Pizza with Fontina, Ricotta Salata and Olives

Padrón Pepper Margherita Pizza {gluten-free}

If gluten isn’t an issue for you or your guests, feel free to use these toppings over your favorite wheaty pizza crust. (This is mine.) And just a note that my GF pizza crust recipe makes enough for two pizzas but I’ve listed the ingredients below for one in case you want to change it up. Look for padróns that are on the small side and dark green. And feel free to play fast and loose with the toppings; I’ve listed some suggestions in the post above.Makes 1 (10-11″) pizza, serving 2-3

1 parbaked gluten-free pizza crust
1 1/4 cups (2.5 ounces / 70 g) small padrón peppers, stems snipped
1 teaspoon good olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4-6 ounces (170 g) fresh mozzarella, sliced and drained on paper towels
2-3 ounces (85 g) fresh goat cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)
1 cup (4 ounces / 113 g) cherry tomatoes, stemmed and halved
flaky salt
cracked black pepper
handful small basil leaves

Follow the instructions for parbaking the pizza crust. Keep the oven at 500ºF.

In a small bowl, toss the trimmed padróns with the olive oil.

When the crust is parbaked, top it with the mozzarella, goat cheese, halved cherry tomatoes, oiled padróns, and a good sprinkle of flaky salt and black pepper. Use a pizza peel to slip the pizza into the oven and onto the hot baking stone (or inverted baking pan). Bake until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly, 6-10 minutes.

Use tongs to grab the pizza out of the oven and onto the pizza peel, then transfer to a large cutting board. Drizzle with olive oil, top with the fresh basil leaves, and use a pizza wheel or large, sharp chef’s knife to cut it into 6 pieces. Serve immediately.

Leftovers will keep well, refrigerated airtight, for up to 2 days. The best way to reheat them is to place pizza slices in a cast iron skillet over low heat and warm, uncovered, until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.

28 thoughts on “Padrón Pepper Margherita Pizza {gluten-free}”

  1. There is a long-lasting debate that continues to rage in my household each time pizza comes up: margherita, or toppings. My partner will go for the simple, unadorned pie each time, while I will endeavour to put anything under the sun on it – eggplants and feta, olives and, for a time, even pickles. I believe this pizza may finally provide us with the perfect compromise! Beautiful work.

    1. Haha, perfect! I took my foodie dad to a fancy pizza place when he came into town and almost passed out when he ordered the margherita over the other fun choices. To each his own I guess! Thanks so much for the kind words.

  2. I'm in loooove with your blog! Photos are amazing, recipes are so yummy. You've earned a new fan :) I love your idea of pizza too: being Italian means also making our family pizzas in the most common ways, rarely trying something new, you know. When you've got a family who requires only the 'old but gold' variety of ingredients it becomes a bit ordinary – even if I know, I'm one of the luckiest people with fresh pomodori and basilico out of my home door. But your version needs to be tried, absolutely :D Thanks for sharing, now I've got a new hint for a new pizza to do at home – and a new reason to change some 'old but gold' habits ;)

    1. Aw, molte grazie, bella! When I lived in Italy, we were making pizza one night with my Italian housemates and I suggested doing something like barbeque chicken or pesto and shrimp. Just the thought of it made them gag! Let me know if you give this one a shot. :)

  3. I've barely finished breakfast and I'm already craving this for lunch! I remember the first time I had roasted padron peppers: it was at a restaurant nearby, and they were so, so good — until I bit into that REALLY spicy one! Didn't stop me from polishing off the rest of 'em!

  4. This pizza sounds fantastic, and we're a pepper-loving house too. Even the dog has been known to eat jalapenos right off our backyard plants. I've been looking forward to trying your gluten free crust since you first posted it… next pizza night, gonna take the plunge :)

  5. Alanna!

    I've been making your gluten-free pizza crust now since you posted it and its been soooo great! We eat dairy-free & meat-free and still find a ton of awesome toppings. It's delicious every time. Thank you for your recipes! They keep us healthy! :)

    Mandy from

  6. I'd love to try this! I'd never seen padron peppers and I like to pride myself on knowing such wonderful Spanish ingredients and certainly knowing my peppers. Thanks for the lesson. I'll keep an eye out. Unless you really try making your own pizza you'll never know what an amazing difference it makes. Night and day when compared to pizza parlors. Yum. Well done.

  7. PADRON PEPPERS!!! ON A PIZZA!!!! You're a genius Alanna! If I haven't won my way into Mitch's heart through his stomach yet — THIS IS HOW I'M GUNNA DO IT!!!!! ^_^

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