"Red" is the theme for December's blog and this will be the second article in a three-part Holiday series. Today we pay tribute to the neon-red colored piquillo pepper from Spain. In case you don't know them, piquillos are sweet, smoky flavor-bombs that can be served multiple ways. Their color and the fact that they can be easily stuffed with a huge variety of scrumptious goodies make them perfect gastronomic treats for yuletide tapas.
One of my favorite stuffings is minced lamb mixed with a host of Middle Eastern spices such as tumeric, toasted cumin and fresh mint. Top them with minced chives and you have Christmas on a plate. Other faves of mine are a goat cheese-stuffed piquillo, or an earthy wild-mushroom & truffle filling. But the sky's the limit as piquillos make a wonderful ingredient in a holiday omelet, pasta, risotto, or even blended to make a lip-stick red holiday sauce.
But, wait! December is dungeness crab season on the west coast which means piquillos can be filled with crab for a very special holiday appetizer (or first course). I mix a little binding agent (Greek yogurt is okay if you're watching fat content, or if you're blowing the wad for the season use creme fraiche). Mince into the crab mixture a little fresh tarragon and you have a decadent, colorful, and absolutely outrageous yuletide dish.
Note: if you can't find piquillos, they are available online.