Sweet and succulent with smoky, tangy notes, piquillo peppers come from the village of Lodosa in the Navarra region of northern Spain. Named for their distinctive beak-like shape (piquillo means “little beak” in Spanish), these bright red peppers are handpicked in the fall, fire-roasted, and peeled. Some are even roasted right in the field after being harvested. You’ll find them in jars or tins packed in olive oil or their own rich juices. Look for the D.O. (Denominación de Origen) distinction on the label to be sure they’re the real deal.
Traditionally, piquillos are stuffed with either seafood or meat, but their uses extend far beyond. Swap them in wherever you would use regular roasted red peppers for a deeper, more intense flavor. Try them slivered on a salad or layered onto a sandwich. They can be blended for pasta sauce or chopped and used as a delicious and dressy relish garnish. We also like them straight out of the jar with a chunk of crusty bread and a sprinkle of salt.
You can usually substitute jarred roasted red peppers—they'll deliver a good sweet pepper flavor, but will lack the heat of a piquillo.
You might find piquillos at a well-stocked grocery store, but they’re generally more of a specialty store item.