A great recipe for a simple tapa from José Pizarro's lovely new book Spanish Flavours. José, as you may know if you're based in the UK, has a cracking tapas bar in Bermondsey called José and, appropriately enough, a slightly more formal restaurant in the same street called Pizarro.
Jose writes: "The red peppers in Spain are outstanding and there is almost nothing better than peppers roasted in a proper wood-fired oven, a service that during my childhood was provided by the village baker. I’ll always remember the aroma that filled the house when my mother returned from the baker’s bearing a large tray of these wonderful vegetables. The combination of sweet roasted red peppers and salty anchovies is always a winner. This can be served as a tapa, as the larger Basque-style pintxos or even as a light lunch with a dressed green salad and a poached egg.
If you’re in a hurry, instead of roasting the red peppers, use a jar/tin of Piquillo peppers, which are already roasted and skinned and have a great smoky flavour."
2 large heads of garlic, unpeeled, plus 1 fat clove, finely chopped
4 large thyme sprigs
1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 large red peppers
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
8 small slices of rustic white bread, about 1cm thick
16 good-quality anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200°C /gas mark 6. Remove the outer papery skin from each head of garlic and take a thin slice off the top of each one to expose the cloves. Tear off a large square of foil, place the heads of garlic in the centre, add 2 of the thyme sprigs, drizzle each head with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Wrap securely in the foil, place in a small roasting tin along with the peppers and roast on the top shelf of the oven for 20–30 minutes, turning the peppers once or twice until the skins have blackened in places. Remove the peppers from the tin, drop them into a plastic bag and leave until cool enough to handle. Return the garlic parcels to the oven and roast for a further 35 minutes, or until the cloves feel very soft when pressed.
Meanwhile, slit open the peppers, working over a bowl so that you catch all the juices, and remove and discard the stalks, seeds and skin. Tear the flesh into 1cm-wide strips and add to the bowl of juices with the chopped garlic clove, vinegar, the remaining thyme leaves and the rest of the olive oil. Stir well together.
Remove the garlic from the oven and set the parcel aside. Toast the slices of bread. (I like to put mine on the bars of a preheated cast-iron ridged griddle long enough to give the bread a slightly smoky taste, then finish it off in the toaster.) Unwrap the roasted garlic, squeeze some of the purée from each clove and spread it onto the toast while both are still hot. Sprinkle with a few sea salt flakes and some black pepper.
Season the pepper strips with a little salt to taste and spoon onto the garlic toast. Garnish each slice with the anchovy fillets, drizzle over some of the pepper juices and serve while the toast is still crisp.
What to drink: I had a similar dish in Rioja a few weeks ago with a rioja rosado and it went really well. It would also be great with a fino or manzanilla sherry or a crisp Rueda or Sauvignon Blanc.
This recipe comes from Spanish Flavours by José Pizarro published by Kyle Books. Image © Emma Lee.