Saturday, June 8, 2019


Friends were coming for lunch and I needed to put out something for them to nosh on while I cooked the rice and reheated the stuffed cabbage. I opened the cupboard to see what I could conjure up.

What can I conjure up from the cupboard? Canned piquillo peppers, tuna, anchovies are a good starting point.

A can of piquillo peppers. That sounds like a starting point for a dip or schmear. I’ll just add a can of melva (frigate mackerel) and some anchovies canned in olive oil. I put them all in a blender with some soft goat cheese (queso fresco de cabra) and a dash of Tabasco sauce. When it was smooth and creamy, I tasted. It needed a pinch of salt and a spoonful of Sherry vinegar to give it some pizazz. Not bad. I served it with crackers, toasts and endive leaves for dipping.

Out of the cans and into the blender along with some soft goat cheese. This version is garnished with chopped egg, but you could use chives or, maybe, caviar. The dip is good served with toasts and crackers -- 

or, with vegetable dippers such as endive leaves.

Dip would make a good sandwich spread too.

The recipe for this dip can be freely varied, depending on what’s in your cupboard. No piquillo peppers? Use a jar of flame-roasted red peppers. Use canned tuna or sardines in place of the mackerel; cream cheese or ricotta instead of queso fresco. Add chopped herbs, mixed into the dip or sprinkled on top. Chives are perfect. Hot it up with cayenne or a squeeze of harissa (Moroccan red pepper paste). Garnish the top with chopped egg or, maybe, lumpfish caviar.

The dip can be served immediately or refrigerated for later use. It firms up if chilled and may need a little water whisked in to thin to dipping consistency. It also makes a good sandwich filling. Spread it on bread and add crunchy sprouts or greens.

Piquillo Pepper Dip or Spread

1 can (185 g/ 6.5 oz) piquillo peppers, drained
¼ cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic (optional)
½ cup queso fresco or cream cheese
1 can (120 g/ 4 oz) tuna, mackerel or sardines, drained
6-8 fillets anchovies packed in oil, drained
2 teaspoons Sherry vinegar
Salt to taste
Chopped herbs, as desired
Garnishes, as desired
Crackers, toasts or vegetable dippers, to serve

Place the piquillo peppers, onion, garlic if using, and cream cheese in the container of a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Add the tuna, anchovies and vinegar. Process until smooth. Taste the blend and add salt if needed. Season with chopped herbs to taste. 

Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered, up to 2 days.

The start of something good--canned roasted piquillo peppers. Piquillo peppers are sweet and slightly piquant. A good thing to have in the cupboard.

I seem to have conjured up quite a few dishes using piquillo peppers:

And, more recipes using canned seafood here.

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