Our trip to San Sebastian inspired us to host a party featuring pintxos, the Basque Country’s iconic small plate creations speared through with toothpicks. Pintxos (“PEEN-chohs”) are the perfect party food: colorful, tasty finger foods that pack all their flavor into a couple of bites.
We turned to piquillo peppers, a mildly sweet pepper that is served all over Spain and is easily available in the United States. Piquillos are similar in flavor to the sweet red peppers you might find on a good deli sandwich. They are relatively small and have a hollow conical shape that makes them perfect for stuffing. In San Sebastian, they stuffed them with salt cod brandade and baked them in a creamy pink tomato sauce.
Back in New York, we stuffed our piquillo peppers with a mixture of goat cheese and toasted walnuts, mellowed with extra virgin olive oil. The mild saltiness of the goat cheese perfectly compliments the sweetness of the peppers, while the nuts give the soft ingredients much-needed texture. We speared each one through with a toothpick for a traditional pintxo presentation. Our company devoured them, and yours will too.
- Approximately 15 piquillo peppers (buy here)
- 3 ounces walnuts
- 11 ounces goat cheese
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
- Drain the piquillo peppers and set them on a paper towel. Toast the walnuts in a dry pan until they are fragrant. Remove them and chop them finely.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the chopped toasted walnuts with the goat cheese. Add the olive oil and three tablespoons of water and mix to combine, forming a paste. Mix in the parsley, if using. Season with salt and fresh cracked pepper.
- Stuff the goat cheese filling into a pastry bag or, if you are like me and don't have a pastry bag, create a makeshift pastry bag. Cut the corner off a ziplock bag, fill the bag with the filling and seal it tight. Insert the cut end of the bag into the pepper and squeeze the filling in. Alternatively, use a spoon or your fingers.
- Arrange the peppers on a platter with a toothpick speared through each one. Serve and enjoy.
Make-ahead tip: The peppers can be stuffed in advance and saved for a day or two in the refrigerator. Bring them up to room temperature before serving so that the filling softens.