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White Bean Sofrito Stuffed Piquillo Peppers with Spanish Tomato and Garlic Bread, Serrano Ham, and Chorizo

Craig Thiebaud

Thursday, July 17, 2014 • 6:00am

With summer produce season in full swing and farmer’s markets around the area full of new and interesting choices each week, you may be wondering what to do with all the vegetables that you’ve purchased.  This recipe packs a large number of summer vegetables into one recipe.  It can be served as an appetizer (Tapas) or as a main dish coupled with a salad. 

Sofrito is a Spanish base sauce of sorts and is used in many, many dishes in Spain.  Generically, it consists of a few basic ingredients:  garlic, onion, peppers, tomatoes, and olive oil.  It is usually seasoned simply with salt, pepper, and Spanish paprika (Pimenton).  This recipe includes all of that plus some fennel, crushed white beans, and parsley.  The sofrito is then stuffed inside a mild, Spanish pepper, called a piquillo pepper.  Feel free to substitute a roasted red pepper if you can’t find the piquillo peppers.  The beauty of a sofrito is that you can add or subtract any number of ingredients to suit your taste and what sort of vegetables you have on hand.  As long as you have garlic, peppers, onion, and olive oil, you can play around with the amounts and types of ingredients you use.  The amount of sofrito this makes will be way more than what is required for simply stuffing the peppers.  That said, it can be frozen and used in another dish at a later time.  I also, from time to time, serve this sofrito with a bit more beans and make a dip out of it and serve it with crusty bread and vegetables.  You could also flavor rice with it…really imagination is your only limit here!

The tomato and garlic bread is also a typical Spanish preparation.  Although similar to bruschetta, this bread has a soft pink/red color and, though toasted, the texture combines a softer top with a crunchier bottom portion.  This coupled with Serrano ham (similar in taste and texture to prosciutto) and some Spanish chorizo, you have a wonderful Tapas/starter Spanish-inspired dish.  Add a salad to it and enjoy it as a main course.  The stuffed peppers are completely vegetarian and you can certainly keep it that way by simply skipping the Serrano ham and chorizo sausage.  

I hope you enjoy this dish inspired by Spain and I also hope you enjoy all the wonderful vegetable offerings available to us right now here in New Jersey.

Ingredients:

For the Sofrito:

2 Bell peppers, chopped finely

2 Onions, chopped finely

12 Cloves garlic, chopped finely

2 Tomatoes, chopped finely

½ Bulb fennel, finely chopped

¾ Cup Spanish Olive Oil

1 Can white beans, drained and rinsed

1 Tablespoon hot Pimenton or Spanish paprika

1 Cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste

1 Jar piquillo peppers, drained and rinsed

For the Bread:

1 Loaf Crusty bread

1-2 Tomatoes, halved

2-3 Cloves of garlic

Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper

Spanish olive oil for drizzling

For the Garnish:

½ Cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley

2-3 Slices Serrano ham

4-5 Slices Dried Chorizo sausage

Drizzle Spanish olive oil

Drizzle of extra sofrito

A slight dusting of Pimenton

Preparations:

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  • Chop bell peppers, onion, garlic, tomatoes, and fennel very finely
  • Heat a pan over medium heat for a couple minutes.  Add the ¾ cup of olive oil.
  • Add the peppers, onion, and fennel to the pan.  Add a touch of sea salt and cook for around 5 minutes.  You should see some olive oil at the bottom of the pan.  If you can’t see the olive oil, add a touch more.
  • After five minutes, add the garlic and cook another couple minutes.  Finally, add the tomato and hot Pimenton.  Reduce heat and cook another 20 minutes or until the vegetables and oil come together as a sauce and everything is completely cooked through.
  • Drain one can of white beans, rinse, and crush beans with your hands.  You are looking for a thick paste but with chunks of beans still remaining here and there.  Add to sauce.
  • Add the parsley and some sea salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. 
  • Rinse the piquillo peppers.
  • Carefully fill the peppers with the cooled sofrito.  Allow for 2-3 peppers per serving in using piquillo peppers
  • Place peppers on baking sheet and place in oven.  Bake for 10 minutes to just heat through.
  • Remove peppers from oven and set aside.
  • Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  • Slice bread into thick slices, allowing one thick slice per serving.  Drizzle each slice with olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper.
  • Place bread in oven and cook for 10 minutes or until toasted on both sides.  Remove from oven.
  • Take raw garlic clove and run it all over the top of the bread.  The garlic clove will disintegrate.  Continue using another, one at a time, until all the bread has been covered with the raw garlic.  Take the tomato halves and do the same thing, running the tomato over the bread, leaving chunks of tomato along with way.  The bread should have a pinkish/red appearance.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the top.

To serve:

Arrange stuffed peppers on plate or platter.  Add bread.  Slightly dust both with just a touch more Pimenton.  Add the Serrano ham and dried Chorizo to the plate.  Add small drops of the sofrito around the plate.  Garnish with the parsley and a drizzle of olive oil over the top of the peppers.

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