Piquillo pimientos are to peppers what Parmigiano-Reggiano is to cheese: the undisputed sovereign. However, buyer beware: there are many versions sold these days and almost all of them are packed with peppers roasted on gas grills, not wood fired grills. There’s a huge difference in flavor.
In the same way that home barbecue tastes better when it’s done with wood, roasted piquillos improve when they get a dose of smoke. Gas-roasted peppers are fine. But wood-roasted peppers are magnificent, the beech wood smoke imparts umami richness and amplifies the flavor.
Wood-fire roasted piquillo pimientos are always more expensive since wood roasting is a finicky process, but the return on flavor you get with your extra dollar is extraordinary. They also happen to be gorgeous, which makes them excellent for entertaining. Lay a rose-red piquillo on a white plate in a pool of gorgeous Alziari olive oil, and you’ll have an hors d’oeuvre as luscious to look at as it is to eat.
Piquillo peppers are packed in their own juices, nothing else. Upon opening, top them off with olive oil and store in your refrigerator. They will last a couple months.