Piquillo Pepper
Piquillo Pepper

Flavors of Spain

Suggestion of the wine waiter
Because of its slightly spicy vegetable flavors, the piquillo pairs well with red Crianza wines, as well as dry, slightly oaked or fruity whites.

The piquillo pepper, from Spain's Navarra region, is small, red, slightly hot and unlike any other pepper. It is triangular in shape and slightly curved, with dense fleshy sides and a sweet, balanced flavor. They are usually roasted and sold in cans or jars which then bear the pepper's reserved designation of origin, granted in 1987.

Piquillo peppers are picked by hand during two harvests between September and December. They are harvested only when they have reached the perfect shape and maturity. They are then roasted over embers, during which they lose 60% of their weight in water, concentrating and intensifying the flavors.  Once roasted, the skins and seeds are removed by hand. Seeds from the best crop are set aside for the following year. To preserve their flavor, the piquillos are not rinsed before being packed, leaving them with their trademark black specks. 

High in fiber and low in calories, like all peppers piquillos are an excellent source of vitamins C, E, A, and B complex. Their vitamin C content rivals citrus fruits and they have as much carotene as carrots.

Culinary tips
Piquillos lend themselves to a wide variety of uses and can be paired or stuffed with countless ingredients. Piquillos stuffed with meat, seafood or cheese are a typical dish of the Navarra region.

A very easy, yet classic, preparation method is to roast the peppers and drizzle them with good olive oil and sprinkle with salt. They are also delicious gently fried in olive oil with garlic.

Little Cod-Stuffed Peppers
Firmin & Philippe Arrambide, Les Pyrénées, France

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