Stuffed piquillo peppers is a dish one would serve in Spain on special occasions, but is in fact so easy to make it could be served every day. These peppers look good and taste good, thanks to their bright red colour, their rich flavour and their mild peppery warmth. They really are fantastic peppers to cook with and are common in many traditional Spanish dishes.
So, you might ask, if this recipe is so good, then why have I taken this long to publish it?
As an ex-IT engineer, I could blame it all on the recipe database programme I have….. but that would be an over simplification. The problem is that the database I have is too good, and storing recipes in it is in fact too easy. The tool I use can generally automatically grab recipes from websites….. I don’t have to type anything, just press a button. My over-active button pressing finger mean that I have lost control of what I have.
My recipe “to do” list has grown exponentially and I have a surfeit of recipes. When I used to collect newspaper or magazine recipe cuttings I was always forced to take action when the pile became unmanageable, but electronic recipes don’t take up space in the traditional sense so I can accumulate without really realising it. My old tried-and-tested recipes are getting lost in amongst the newer untried ones. Just recently I have made a conscious effort to revive some of the old recipe gems I have.
So let’s get back to these piquillo peppers, and if you are unfamiliar with them I would wholeheartedly recommend you give them a try. This recipe will not work that well with other types of peppers, and as I mentioned in my article “Revuelto de Morcilla y Ajos Tiernos” the best ones are to be found in Navarra, Spain.
Many vegetables grow well in Navarra as the region has an excellent climate and good, fertile soils. There are however a couple of vegetables grown there that are famous throughout Spain, asparagus and the piquillo peppers. They are both delicious and the fact that they are often sold in tins has added to their popularity, as this makes them easy to transport around Spain and indeed the world.
Unfortunately I am not talking about exporting to the rest of the world, I am talking about importing asparagus and peppers into Spain. They are being grown in South America and China and being sold as Spanish. Of course the packaging has to show the true country of origin, and it is there if you have a magnifying glass and patience enough to find it.
Unfortunately they are often imported by a Spanish company and the company name takes up most of the label. They are often packaged in Spain, so that would appear fairly prominently too. The origin of the products is normally on there somewhere, so I guess one can’t complain about the actual content of the labelling. The format and typeface however can trick one into reading only what they want you to read. They comply with the letter of the law but not the intention of the law. In my opinion such labelling should be banned!
One of the easiest ways to tell which ones are from Navarra is to look at the price, they tend to be the most expensive. The big producers therefore are in a win-win situation, they bring in large quantities of cheap imports for the lower end of the market, then sell local produce that cost the earth, for those people who are looking for better quality or want to support the local farmers.
Ironically I am told that it all started with farmers from Navarra moving production to the south of Spain where labour rates were cheaper. As is so often the case they were looking to reduce costs and increase margins. Emboldened by their success they took the bigger step of moving production to south America. They will no doubt lose out long-term, countries like China are getting in on the act. Lower labour rates in many of the poorer countries in the world together with global delivery logistics means products can be produced almost anywhere then distributed wherever there is a market.
Anyway, back to the recipe. This one is a gem as I said above, get the right peppers and give it a try, you will not be disappointed:
Stuffed Piquillo Peppers
Serves 4 as a starter
14 Baked red piquillo peppers
1 Green pepper
1 Garlic clove
1 Salad onion
Peel the tomato then finely chop together with the pepper, garlic and onion.
Gently fry the vegetables until soft. When ready, remove from the heat to cool slightly.
Meanwhile make the béchamel sauce by first melting the butter in a small saucepan. When the butter has melted add in the flour and fry for a couple of minutes to cook the flour.
Slowly add in the milk, a little at a time.
After adding a little milk stir into the butter and flour mixture until the milk is fully mixed in and there are no lumps.
Continue adding a little more milk and stirring again to mix well.
When the béchamel is complete take it off the heat and reserve. If there is the odd lump it is not that big a problem as we will be beating the sauce later in the recipe.
Flake the tuna and mix into the fried vegetables.
Choose the best 12 peppers and fill them. Gently hold them in your hand whilst gently pressing small amounts of the tuna vegetable mix into their interior with a teaspoon. Don’t worry if they are not too perfect nor if you break a couple in the process as we will need a couple of peppers for the béchamel sauce.
Preheat the oven to 160ºC.
Take the two remaining peppers.
Blend them with a small amount of milk to for a nice smooth sauce.
Beat into the béchamel.
Gently re-heat the sauce a little if it has become chilled.
Pour the béchamel sauce into the bottom of an oven dish and place the stuffed red peppers decoratively on top.
Warm through in the oven.
A 200g (nett) tin of peppers tend to hold about 14 whole peppers. Make sure you buy whole peppers, many suppliers sell chopped peppers much cheaper and with similar labels. They need to be whole peppers so that they can be stuffed.
If you can’t find piquillo peppers in your local shops, they do sell them on-line in places like Amazon.
I often use homemade tomato sauce, not ketchup, instead of a fresh tomato, particularly if it is not the season for tomatoes. You will see no chopped tomato in the photographs as I used one a jar from my own allotment from last summer. Just stir enough into the vegetable and tuna mixture to moisten nicely, before filling the peppers.
This week I have chosen two delicious sweets from Navarra as my suggested links:
For Goxua a delicious custard based recipe just click here.
For a really quick yoghurt based recipe called Xamingoxo just click here.
tsp – Teaspoon – 5ml
tbsp – Tablespoon – 15ml
Imperial to Metric Measurement:
1 oz – 28g
1 lb – 16 oz – 454g
1 gill – ¼ pint – 142ml
1 inch – 25mm
Common Flour Types:
Gluten: 8% to 10%
Type: ES 70W
All-Purpose Flour / Plain Flour
Gluten: 8% to 11%
Type: DE 550 / FR 55 / IT 0 / ES 200W
Bread Flour / Strong Flour / Hard Flour
Gluten: 12% to 14% protein (gluten)
Type: DE 812 / FR 80 / IT 1 / ES 400W
2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge