Stuffed Piquillo Peppers
Source: Recipe and photo courtesy of Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
A lively lentil salad fills these Spanish peppers and crispy blue cheese “croutons” are scattered on the plate to create a more robust take on a traditional tapa. At Hudson Garden Grill, Chef Alonzo serves two for an appetizer, but the stuffed peppers can make for a satisfying vegetarian entree by increasing the portion size.
1 cup green lentils
1/2 head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
1 bay leaf
3 tsp. salt, divided
1/2 cup diced green bell peppers
1/2 cup diced red bell peppers
1/2 cup seeded and diced plum tomatoes
1 shallot, diced
4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 tbsp. Spanish sherry vinegar, divided
2 tbsp. chopped chives
4 tbsp. cornstarch
1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened
4 oz. firm blue cheese
16 piquillo peppers, drained and dried well
Fleur de sel, for garnish
- In deep pot, combine lentils, onion, garlic, bay leaf and 1 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to simmer; cook until lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain; reserve cooking liquid, pouring a little over lentils to prevent them from drying out. Discard onion, garlic and bay leaf.
- In large bowl, combine lentils, bell peppers, tomatoes and shallots. Stir in 3 tbsp. olive oil, 2 tbsp. sherry vinegar, 2 tsp. salt and the chives. Set aside.
- Sprinkle work surface with half of cornstarch. Dust hands with remaining cornstarch. Form cream cheese into two 6-in. by 6-in. squares on work surface. Crumble blue cheese over one layer. Top with other layer of cream cheese, covering blue cheese. Press edges together to seal. Cut into 36 1-in. squares; roll in cornstarch. Deep fry until browned and crisp. Remove and drain.
- Stuff piquillo peppers with lentil salad; place 2 in center of each of 8 serving plates. Place cheese "croutons" around peppers and sprinkle with remaining sherry vinegar and olive oil. Garnish with fleur de sel.