The good thing about having to move is getting to throw a farewell party where you can cook your heart out before you have to stash all your utensils and spices into boxes, disconnect your oven, and survive on a single hotplate for a week while you paint the apartment.
This is a take on another classic Basque pintxo that I’ve seen with the peppers unsautéed, just chopped very finely and stirred into the vinaigrette. Since it features onion and I prefer my onion cooked, I’ve gone classic piperrada and sautéed them until smooth.
A piperrada, very commonly served with a pair of fried eggs on top and a slice of bread on the side (which is delicious in its own right), consists of red and green bell peppers, sliced and sautéed slowly in a generous amount of olive oil in a sofrito of garlic and onion. Add a pinch salt and you’re done. Fry an egg or two atop the piperrada in the end, although you can just as well eat it without eggs.
Where was I?
Actually, all I wanted to do was use up the extra can ov anchovies in my fridge.
And then this happened:
Anchovy Pintxo with Piperrada and Tomato (makes about 20-24 pintxos)
- 1 baguette type bread (the good stuff), cut into slices
- olive oil (just keep a bottle at hand)
- 1 small can of anchovies (about a dozen)
- 3 slices of Serrano ham (can be omitted in case you have fish-yes-meat-no vegetarians or toxo-negative pregnant women among your guests) or any other smoked ham you can get your hands on.
- 2-3 tomatoes
- the head of one spring onion (Spanish size) or two spring onion with greens (German size)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 red and 1 green bell pepper.
- if you don’t use Spanish bell peppers: 2 canned pimientos de piquillo, or another type of smoked and peeled red bell pepper
- olive oil (see above)
- white vine vinegar or balsamico bianco
- a pinch or two of salt
- Here, have a few of these first before we start cooking, a piperrada takes a while (but really, the pintxo is dead simple):
- Start with the piperrada: Chop the spring onion and garlic very finely. Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a pan and sweat the onion and garlic on low heat for at least five minutes, until fragrant and translucent (‘sofrito’). Meanwhile, dice the bell peppers, also very finely. The choice of bell pepper is crucial for the taste of the piperrada and if you, like me, cannot get a hold of Spanish bell peppers, with the characteristic bitter tang of the green ones and the smoky sweetness of the red ones, have some smoked peppers on hand (they can be Hungarian, too – that’s the most accesible kind over here) to add later. With the bland Dutch greenhouse peppers commonly sold over here, you simply can’t coax out a lot of flavor.
- Either way, whatever bell peppers you could find, dice them finely and add them to the sofrito, adding a tsp. or two of olive oil. Sautée slowly over low, simmering heat. This can easily take up 20 minutes. 30 minutes won’t hurt, either. A few minutes before the end of the cooking time, add two finely diced, canned smoked red bell peppers, to create the characteristic sweet and smoky taste of a piperrada.
- Meanwhile, you can wash and thinly slice the tomatoes (always slice from the bottom up. Looks prettier, and the Basque swear by it), tear the ham into two dozen bite-sized pieces, and drain and rinse the anchovies, pinch them in half and pad them dry.
- You can also already whip up a light vinaigrette of about 2-3 tbsp. olive oil and 1/2-1 tbsp. white wine vinegar with a small pinch of salt.
- In another, large pan, heat another tbsp. of olive oil. Roast the slices of bread from both sides until slightly golden. Set aside, cut large slices into halves.
- Once your kitchen is filled with the delicious smell of piperrada, pull the pan off the stove and start to mount to pintxos:
- Place one slice of bread as the base.
- Add a slice of tomato.
- If you use ham, add a piece of ham on top of the tomato.
- Next, place half an anvchovy atop the ham.
- Top with 1/2 a tsp. of still warm piperrada.
- Drizzle lightly with dressing.
- Serve immediately, or, if not possible, within the hour (before the bread gets soggy).
Piperrada: so good you could also just spoon it up!