Piquillo-and Anchovy-Stuffed Olives

There’s no better tapa than a good stuffed olive. But the ones you usually find in the supermarket are filled with poor-quality pepper and even poorer anchovy. One of the best appetizers for a lunch or dinner is to take a good olive and stuff it with the real thing. Simple ingredients prepared in a simple way—that’s the best way to take your everyday cooking to a higher level.

Metric version of recipe

8 portions

Ingredient Amount
Olives, green extra large, imported, unpitted 16 ea.
Anchovy fillets, oil packed 8 ea.
Piquillo peppers, canned 4 ea.
Garlic cloves, medium, unpeeled 2 ea.
Olive oil, extra virgin 6 Tbsp.
Orange, zest of, grated 2 tsp.
Sherry vinegar 2 Tbsp.
Sea salt as needed

Method

  1. Pit the olives, using an olive pitter if possible. If you must put them manually, put your hand on top of the widest part of the flat side of a knife, and press down on the side of each olive. Apply steady pressure until the olive flattens slightly and you feel the resistance from the pit. Give the olive a quarter turn and use the knife as before to gently press down, steadily increasing pressure until you meet resistance from the pit once again. At this point, the pit should be mostly freed from the flesh of the olive. Make a lengthwise slit in the olive from end to end, stopping at the pit. Gently pry any adhering olive flesh from the pit, using a paring knife, if necessary, to free the pit. Be careful not to split the olive in half.
  2. Cut the anchovy fillets lengthwise creating 16 long slices, removing any long or stiff bones. Cut the piquillo peppers into sixteen ½-inch wide strips.
  3. Place one anchovy slice and one pepper strip in each olive. You can be generous with the filling, allowing the anchovy and pepper to spill out of the olive.
  4. Split open the garlic cloves by placing them on a chopping board and pressing down hard with the base of your hand or with the flat side of a knife. Discard the peels.
  5. Mix together the garlic, olive oil, orange zest, and vinegar in a small bowl. Place the stuffed olives in a separate shallow, wide bowl, pour the dressing over them, and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. Remove the olives from the dressing, sprinkle with sea salt, and arrange on a plate with toothpicks for serving.

Additional tips

Buy unpitted olives for this dish. It’s more work for you, but the olives are usually better quality and have meatier flesh. Piquillo peppers come in 8-ounce (or larger) jars. They are available at specialty markets and on the Internet.

Recipe credit: José Andrés, as presented at the Worlds of Flavor International Conference & Festival. Published with permission of the author. All rights reserved. Served at lunch on Friday, Nov. 3, 2006.

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