Piquillo means “little beak” in Spanish, and piquillo peppers get their name from that shape, though, ironically, they don’t have the “bite” of many other pepper varieties. Grown in the Navarra region ofnorthern Spain near the town of Lodosa, they’re very mild.After harvest, they’re fire-roasted for a sweet and smoky flavor, peeled and seeded by hand, then packed in brine. You can purchase them from many online purveyors. For a variation on the crabmeat, try flaked Spanish tuna.
- Extra virgin olive oil, about 3 tablespoons in all
- 6 ounces goat cheese or cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon dry Spanish sherry
- 1 cup crabmeat, shredded
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped pitted black olives, preferably Spanish
- 3 tablespoons finely minced scallion tops (green parts only)
- Kosher or coarse sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 12-ounce jar of brined whole piquillo peppers, drained
Preheat your oven to 425°F. Drizzle the bottom of a baking dish with olive oil and set aside. Use a wooden spoon to combine the cheese and sherry in a bowl. Fold in the crabmeat, olives, and scallions, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Transfer the cheese-crab mixture to a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch donut filler tip, or use a sturdy resealable plastic bag and snip off one of the lower corners to make a 1/2-inch opening. (In a pinch, you can use a small spoon.) Gently pipe about a tablespoon of the cheese-crab mixture into each pepper, being careful not to overstuff and risk tearing the walls of the peppers.
Arrange the stuffed peppers in a single layer on the bottom of the baking dish. Drizzle a few drops of olive oil over the top of each pepper. Bake until the cheese is bubbling, about 12 minutes.
Yields 6 to 8 appetizer servings
Cauliflower is an amazingly versatile vegetable, thanks to its mild taste. Think of it as a healthy base for your favorite sauces. I like to dress it up with this Southwestern-style pesto. Any leftovers make a great cold lunch the next day!
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro, rinsed, dried, and stemmed
- 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded, and coarsely chopped
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- 1/3 cup unsalted walnuts, toasted
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- Coarse kosher or sea salt, plus more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more as needed
- 1/3 cup crumbled cotija or queso fresco
- 1 large head cauliflower, cored and separated into florets
Preheat your oven to 400°F and make the pesto while you’re waiting for it to come up to temperature. In the bowl of a small food processor, combine the cilantro, garlic, jalapeño, lime juice, nuts, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper. Pulse several times. While the machine is running, gradually add 1/4 cup of olive oil through the lid and process until the mixture is fairly smooth, adding additional oil, one tablespoon at a time, as needed for a creamy consistency. Add the cheese and process for a few seconds more. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
Spread the cauliflower florets in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Use two baking sheets if necessary to avoid crowding. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the cauliflower, turning once with a spatula, until lightly brown and tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. When done, transfer to a large bowl, top with several spoonfuls of the pesto, and use a spatula to coat the florets. Serve immediately.
Yields 6 side servings or 4 main dishes
Look at the label on a box of dog treats and you’ll be shocked at the number of ingredients, some unrecognizable and unpronounceable. My recipe has just four, and you probably already have them in your pantry. These biscuits supply not only healthy olive oil but also three whole grains. I’m reluctant to call them dog biscuits because they’re perfect for people too—top one with a slice of cheese and a teaspoon of fig jam and you’ll never buy boxed “human” crackers again!
- 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats, plus more for topping (optional)
- 2 cups whole wheat flour, plus more for rolling
- 2 cups medium-coarse cornmeal
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1-1/2 cups warm water, or more if needed
Preheat your oven to 350ºF and take out two rimmed cookie sheets. In a large bowl, add the 2 cups of each grain and use a large whisk to combine. Add the olive oil and mix it in with your hands. Add the water, mixing again to make a dough. If it’s too dry, add more water until it comes together.
Turn the dough out onto a heavily floured countertop and flour a rolling pin. Divide the dough in two and roll out one half to about 1/4-inch thick. For a prettier cracker to serve to people, sprinkle the tops with a handful of rolled oats and go over the surface with the rolling pin to help set them. If you have a bench scraper, use it to cut the dough into 4-by-2-inch rectangles and then lift them onto a cookie sheet, placing them 1/2 inch apart. (You can also cut them with a blunt knife and transfer them with a large spatula.) Repeat with the remaining dough. All the biscuits should fit on the two sheets.
Bake the biscuits for 25 minutes, then reverse their positions in the oven and bake for another 25 minutes until crispy. Store in a cookie jar or tin—they’ll stay fresh for 10-14 days.
Yields 36 biscuits/crackers
So much better than store-bought, this dip for chips and crudités also makes a great topping for baked potatoes.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- 8 ounces baby spinach leaves, rinsed, patted dry, and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup cream cheese softened at room temperature
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 4 ounces artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill or 1/4 teaspoon dried dill
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
Heat a sauté pan and add the olive oil and the baby spinach a large handful at a time. Sauté until completely wilted and all the liquid has evaporated. Let cool while you proceed.
In a large bowl, use a spatula to fold together the mayonnaise, sour cream, cream cheese, and yogurt. When blended, add the cooked spinach, artichokes, garlic, dill, lemon juice, and onion powder.
Season to taste with the salt, pepper, and optional red pepper flakes for an added kick. Drizzle with olive oil before serving.
Yields about 3 cups