F&W's Marcia Kiesel stuffs piquillo peppers with chewy pasta and toasted almonds—an alternative to the classic filling of codfish and mashed potatoes. The pasta soaks up the bright, nutty Idiazábal sauce beautifully. Kiesel prefers using unsmoked Idiazábal or Manchego because the piquillos already have so much woodsy flavor.
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2 ounces spaghetti
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
6 roasted almonds, coarsely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
12 piquillo peppers from a 7.6-ounce jar
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1 cup finely shredded unsmoked Idiazábal or other unsmoked piquant and nutty sheep's-milk cheese (4 ounces)
Splash of dry sherry
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 425°. In a medium saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the spaghetti until al dente, then drain well. Toss the spaghetti with the olive oil, minced garlic and the chopped almonds and season with salt and pepper.
Gently stuff the piquillo peppers with the spaghetti and set them in a medium glass or ceramic baking dish. Pour 1/3 cup of the heavy cream over the piquillos and bake for 5 minutes, or until heated through and bubbling.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the remaining 1 cup of cream to a boil. Add the Idiazábal and simmer over moderately low heat, stirring constantly until melted. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the sherry. Season lightly with salt. Pour the cheese sauce over the piquillos and serve at once.
The piquillos can be stuffed and refrigerated earlier in the day.
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