By Lorrie Baumann
Roland Foods is just introducing a new product that’s going to become your pantry staple for those times when you’re just one great appetizer away from hearing, “Let’s just order a pizza,” when you have to leave the kitchen to explain that you might have miscalculated your cooking times just a tiny bit, and dinner now looks like it might be still an hour away.
May I introduce you to the bounty of appetizer goodness offered by the piquillo pepper. These are sweet red peppers about the size of a smallish Roma tomato, and there are about eight of them packed into Roland’s 6-ounce jar that retails for around $3.50 or a little less. There’s no heat to them — the flavor’s like pimento.
You just slide them out of the jar, open them out, fill them with something and, depending on the filling, you might toast them for a few minutes in the oven. They’re soft enough to tear easily, so handle them delicately. If you decide to put them in the oven, a muffin tin works well for holding them upright.
As for how you fill them, that just depends on what you have on hand. The traditional Spanish tapas fillings for piquillo peppers are Manchego cheese and/or chorizo, but if you have a can of sardines or tuna in the cupboard, those will do nicely too. A couple of deli slices of ham and some feta bring a nice salty note that enhances the sweet flavors of the pepper.
Look at this piquillo pepper stuffed with a Russian egg salad made with a recipe I got from Molly Wizenberg’s blog here. This is a delicious salad, but Molly had it exactly right when she pointed out that it’s a little deficient on the visuals. But these peppers do for an unlovely egg salad pretty much what the right red dress does for my attractions. Which reminds me — I need to go shopping for a new dress or two for holiday parties. And a new pair of cute boots.
Roland’s Piquillo Peppers are definitely worth keeping in mind during the holiday season, especially if you’re either going to be entertaining or required to bring a dish to a potluck supper. Two of these make a nice appetizer portion, and three are a good lunch portion.