And for good reason! It’s a versatile spice that plays oh-so-well with others (though, true to its country of origin, olive oil and garlic are its very best friends). It’s at once savory, nutty, smoky and a touch sweet (and fiery, if you go for pimentón picante, instead of dulce). It adds delicious oomph to vinaigrettes, grains, vegetables, eggs, poultry and seafood. If it’s not already in your pantry, it’s time to change that. Start adding pinches to most anything. You really can’t go wrong.
An Ode to Pimentón
If you’ve spent more than three minutes on this site, or ever eaten a dinner cooked by us, you’ll know that we’re in love with pimentón de la vera, Spanish paprika made by smoke-drying peppers over oak. It’s a fiercely loyal, dependent, obsessive love; the kind that might make your friends worried if it were with a person, rather than a spice. We use it and abuse it; we really feel like we can’t live without it.
Two words of caution: 1) be sure to get dulce, not picante (it can be HOT!), unless you’re looking for some serious heat, and 2) whenever using, start with less, taste, and gradually add more. If you overdo the pimentón, things start to get real bitter, real fast.
Once you’ve got your pimentón in hand, here’s how to use it:
• In a vinaigrette with lemon juice, orange juice, olive oil and garlic
• In aioli (to serve with tortilla española or on a plateau)
• On seared mushrooms in a mushroom and whipped tahini tartine with herbs and a poached egg
• On garlicky chickpeas
• In tomato sauce
• To fry an egg (add it to the oil or butter in the pan right before you crack in the egg)