Gilda Galore: The Must-Try Basque Snack with a Twist!

Gilda Pinxtos Recipe

I honestly didn't think we needed a recipe for Gilda, that wonderful Basque pinxtos. After all it's just three ingredients: anchovies, olives and guindillas but once I tried one version at a bar I realised that this was my very favourite Gilda (because soon I was eating the whole plate of them). This Gilda has one addition to it that balances it perfectly. Save this delicious snack for drinks with friends (warning: you may want to double or triple the quantity). This is a pushy recipe Dear Reader!

Pinxtos are small bar snacks served on toothpicks. Gilda are perhaps the most emblematic and many say first pinxtos of the Basque region in Northern Spain. Gilda means lollipop in Spanish and they were named after the 1946 movie Gilda starring Rita Hayworth as they were so intoxicatingly spicy and salty like the main character.

Gilda Pinxtos Recipe

Gilda are an absolute flavour bomb. But when I visited Vecina bar in Wickham, Newcastle I was very much besotted by their version that also threaded some roasted peppers onto the skewer. I ate one, and like a cartoon, my eyes almost popped out of my head and then I picked another Gilda up immediately and ate another. And another and another. The sweetness of the roasted peppers balances the saltiness of the rest of the ingredients perfectly.

Making Gilda is simple. All you need are four ingredients and they have to be good quality especially the anchovies and olives. Look for good quality brown anchovies from brands like Ortiz (look around, you can often find these cheaper depending on where you buy them), Olasagasti, Consorcio or Cuca. The olives should also be pitted so that they can be threaded on the toothpick and the pickled guindillas don't have to be a particular brand, you just have to decide on the quantity you want. I used some roasted piquillo peppers that I got from the supermarket (these don't need to be that fancy or a particular brand and were just what I had in the pantry). I bought these cute little rose gold toothpicks to thread them onto.

We always joke about Mr NQN's Basque heritage. It was something we only found out a few years ago with a DNA test but whenever we have Basque food he tends to really really enjoy it (although it helps that it is absolutely delicious too). When I served these Gilda to Mr NQN I watched him like a hawk. He's not one to be overly expressive about food and mostly he gives a thumbs up if he likes something or not so I was looking for micro expressions. And just as I had done, his eyes widened in a cartoonish fashion and he said the most expressive thing he could. "Geez these are good," he said. I had a platter with 8 of these beauties on it and he scoffed each one with a cocktail muttering something about it being part of his heritage that he eat them all!

So tell me Dear Reader, what food makes your eyes pop like a cartoons? Do you like Gildas?

Gilda Pinxtos Recipe
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An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 0 minutes

Makes: 6 Gilda

  • 50g/1.7ozs tin best quality anchovies
  • 6 Manzanilla or Picante Gordal green olives, pitted
  • 6 pickled guindillas (trimmed or not)
  • 1/4 jar/70g/2.5ozs roasted Piquillo peppers
  • Cocktail sticks

Step 1 - Slice the piquillo peppers into thin strips, around 3/4cm or 1/3 of an inch in width. Feed these onto a cocktail stick in a wave pattern or S shape. Then feed a guindilla and 2 brown anchovies and finish with the pitted olive. Drizzle with olive oil if desired.

Gilda Pinxtos Recipe

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