To have a meal made up of small plates is de rigeur in Spain. It is a style of eating I like and one that we have very much adopted here at Casa Rosada.
Derived from the Spanish verb tapar, to cover,in a historical context a tapa was a savoury treat, such as jamon or cheese, placed over the top of a wine glass, protecting it from flies and dust. While no longer required by law,thank goodness the Spanish have no intention of turning their back on this satisfying and sensible tradition.The Portuguese however have never really faced up to tapas but being so close to Spain as we are here in Castro Marim it is a great way to keep the Spanish fly away from our drinks and send them buzzing back in the direction of Spain. This week Hip Hostess NYC flew in from New York via London, Madrid and Seville. So if this was Castro Marim it had to be a welcome to Casa Rosada with a tapas evening which kicked off with a montadito of pequillo peppers, almonds, sherry vinegar and shallots,but the original Spanish recipe was not hot enough for me so I amped it up with some piri piri oil.So in the best traditional way I served it as as a tapa for a glass of cold dry Madeira. My tapa was spread on a small bruschetta and finished with a topping of a boquerone (small white Spanish anchovy), a true Iberian meld of Spanish and Portuguese flavours.It was the hit of the evening and certainly impressed Hip Hostess´s taste buds.I scoured the web for a pequillo pepper dip and found this one which spoke to me for its addition of almonds. I went heavier on the almonds to balance out the flavours and by pairing the dip with marinated anchovies and a dry Madeira it worked harmoniously.
I will be the first to admit that this unusual combination was a winner. It is undoubtedly different, using the piri piri oil for the dip –already bold on its own- worked beautifully for me. Upping the quantity of ground almonds made the dip creamier, holding its own against the marinated anchovies.
Piri Piri Pequillo Pepper and Almond Dip with Marinated Anchovies
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely diced
1 cup bottled pequillo peppers
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (maybe more if you use more almonds)
1 teaspoon piri piri oil 1/3 cup roasted salted marcona almonds
4 tablespoons olive oil (you may need more if you use 1/2 cup almonds like I did)
baguette or small rustic bread slices
Cook the garlic, shallots, peppers, 1 tablespoon vinegar and 1 tablespoon olive oil on the stove over medium-low heatuntil the garlic and shallot are softened but not coloured. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a bit.
Grind the almonds in a mini food processor. After pulsing once or twice, add the remaining three tablespoons olive oil and process until the almonds are creamy.
Stir together the almonds and cooked pepper mixture in a serving bowl. If the dip is too thick for you, add a bit more olive oil. I added one or two more tablespoons of oil and one more tablespoon of vinegar to get a slightly thinner consistency.
Serve spread thickly on baguette slices topped with marinated anchovies