• John M

Serving Tapas -- Piquillo Peppers

Updated: Apr 24, 2018

Piquillo Peppers Three Ways

One of my favorite foods is the Piquillo Pepper. I almost always have a jar (or two) on hand in the refrigerator. They are the perfect combination of flavor, color and size to lend themselves to an endless string of uses in my kitchen. Straight from the jar, they are a great quick snack. Around the kitchen, I slice them as a salad topper, I dice them as garnish for soups and have even pureed them to make a quick roasted red pepper pesto. Of course, they make a great little vessel for tapas!

From Spain, piquillo peppers are small, triangular shaped, bright red and sweet, with just ever so much a hint of heat.

Even in Spain they are almost always found in tins or jars, and seldom fresh. They are hand picked, smoked, peeled, and packed in water or olive oil to preserve them. What you get when you open a jar of piquillo peppers is a wonderfully versatile little packet of flavor and color. I get mine at my local supermarket, where they are always in stock in the “European food” section (not the “Latin American food” section). They come in a 10 oz jar, and have 10 - 12 peppers in each jar.

Smaller than a traditional roasted red pepper, the piquillo pepper lends itself easily to tapas and there are almost an infinite number of ways to serve them. One common way is to stuff the pepper, creating a bite (or two) sized treat that makes for an easy way to create a tasty and elegant tapa or an appetizer. Today, we’ll explore three ways that I commonly stuff piquillo peppers for a gathering. These three tapas are my variations on several traditional varieties -- tuna, deviled egg, and chorizo and manchego stuffed peppers. There is a good bit of similarity between the ingredients, so it is relatively easy to prep the ingredients once, but end up with three different tapas.

The tuna stuffed peppers is not made with an “American” style tuna salad loaded with mayo. Rather it uses a much leaner Spanish/Mediterranean style tuna salad. I first had this version of tuna in a small cafe on the island of Majorca and it completely changed how I prepare tuna now. The salad is heavy on tuna, adds some flavor enhancers, and is held together with a good quality olive oil. It is great on a sandwich, stuffed in pitas, or as a filling for piquillo peppers. Oil packed tuna works better here that water packed tuna. Most tuna in a north american grocery store isn’t packed with olive oil though, which is the best way to go.

If you can get it, I strongly urge using a tuna from the Mediterranean such as the Ortiz brand, pictured below with a jar of piquillo peppers.

All of the peppers are topped with a light garlic allioli, which is a Spanish style garlic mayonnaise used primarily as a topping or dip. A “true” allioli is a fair bit of effort to make from scratch, so I have included a recipe below for a ‘mock’ style allioli which is quite convincing. I recommend making the mock allioli first so the flavors have time to meld together while the pepper tapas are made.

Of course you can come up with your own variations on stuffing the piquillo pepper. Other common fillings include crabmeat, goat cheese, flavored rice, pulled pork, and shredded beef. However you choose to stuff them I really hope that you take the time to discover and enjoy piquillo peppers --- they could change your kitchen forever!

Ingredients (Makes 6 of each)

Mock Allioli

2 cloves garlic, minced and mashed to a paste like consistency

¼ cup good quality mayonnaise

2 tablespoons olive oil

¼ tsp kosher salt

Spanish Tuna Salad

2 3.24 oz cans, Ortiz Bonito del Norte Tuna, drained

2 tsp Red Onion, finely diced

1 tsp Capers, roughly chopped

1 tsp Fresh Tomato, roughly chopped

1 - 3 tsp Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Spanish Deviled Egg

6 Hard Boiled Eggs, yolks only plus ½ of 1 white, roughly chopped

2 tsp Red Onion, finely diced

1 tsp Capers, roughly chopped

5 -6 green or kalamata olives, roughly chopped

1 - 2 tsp olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Chorizo and Manchego

2 tsp Red Onion, finely diced

½ tsp garlic, finely chopped

1 Spanish Chorizo sausage, skin removed

¼ cup panko bread crumbs

1 TBS Parsley, roughly chopped

½ cup Manchego cheese, shredded

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 Jars Piquillo Peppers



Add all the ingredients to a small bowl and whisk together to combine. It will be the consistency of very creamy mayonnaise.

Set aside


I start these tapas by dicing up my red onion and capers and putting each on in small cups on the counter. They each get used in more than one of these tapas, so it is easiest to have them on hand for all up front. There is a total of about 2 TBS of red onion (about ¼ large onion) and 1 TBS of capers


Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine. Use just enough olive oil so that the tuna will loosely hold together. This will not bind quite the same way as a mayo based tuna, but will hold loosely together.

Deviled Egg

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl, and using the back of a fork, gently mash together.

You want the egg to be broken up completely.

The juices from the onion, capers, and olives will add creaminess and binding. If not enough, add olive oil, ½ tsp at a time until the mixture is relatively creamy.

Again, this will not be as creamy as a mayo based deviled egg, but it will come together.

If you would rather, you can add a teaspoon of the mock allioli for a creamier texture and subtly garlic flavor.

Chorizo and Manchego

Heat a small pan over medium high heat and add approx 1 - 2 tsp of olive oil

Saute the onion and garlic until just fragrant -- about 3 - 4 minutes

Add the chorizo meat (removed from casing) and allow to brown completely mixing occasionally with the onion mixture.

Turn off heat and add breadcrumbs, manchego cheese, and parsley and stir to combine.

Residual heat from the pan and sausage mixture will melt the cheese

Stuffing peppers

Remove peppers from the jar, and pat dry

Take a single pepper in one hand and hold like an ice cream cone.

Using a spoon, gently open the top of the pepper

With a small spoon, scoop the filling into the pepper, gently pressing down to ensure it fills the pepper.

Depending on the size of the pepper, it should take 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons of filling to fill the pepper.

Place on a plate to serve and top with a small amount of allioli


© 2018 by mezze & tapas