Category Archives: A love of food

Broccoli and avocado salad

Yes, this is a healthy salad, but it also tastes great. If you have never eaten broccoli in a salad before, I urge you to try it. It is excellent, but only if you pre-cook your broccoli so it is slightly crunchy – over-cooked limp broccoli does not work in a salad! I added toasted walnuts for protein, you can simply omit these or substitute with your favourite nuts.

Serves 4
For the salad:-
1 ½ heads of broccoli
3 ripe avocadoes
a handful of fresh coriander [I used parsley]
a handful of walnuts
For the dressing:-
Juice of 3 limes [about 30ml of juice]
2 tbsp tahini
2 tsp tamari or soy sauce
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp honey or maple syrup [I used maple syrup]
a sprinkling of salt

First prepare the veggies. Cut the broccoli into small florets, bite-sized pieces. Steam them in a steamer for about 7 minutes until cooked but a little crunchy. Alternatively you can boil them, but watch over them so they do not over-cook. Drain, cool in cold water, drain again and set aside.

Slice the avocados in half, remove the stone and peel. Cut the flesh into small cubes

Chop the coriander into tiny pieces.

Mix all three ingredients together in a large salad bowl.

If using nuts, heat a small frying pan over a high heat then add your nuts and dry-toast them [doing this without oil helps to release the nuts’ natural oils and enhances the flavour]. Add the nuts to the salad bowl.

To prepare the dressing:-
Squeeze the limes into a bowl, then add the other dressing ingredients. Stir well, then drizzle over the salad.

If you are hungry, serve with a side dish of roasted sweet potatoes. Simple peel and cut the sweet potatoes into wedges, put onto a baking tray, season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil, toss the veggies to mix, then roast in a hot oven [about 180°C] for around half an hour until the sweet potatoes are going brown around the edges. I check them halfway through and stir. Be sure to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the baking tray.

If you like this, try:-
A Mustardy Leeks Vinaigrette
A Sweet Creamy Frittata
Asparagus and Lemon Risotto

5 to remember
saludable – healthy
sobrecocido/a – over-cooked
si tienes hambre – if you are hungry
las patatas dulces – the sweet potatoes
a medio camino – halfway through

 

This recipe is from Deliciously Ella by Ella Mills [UK: Yellow Kite]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A healthy broccoli & avocado salad #Spain #Recipe by @DeliciouslyElla via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-25x

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A side-effect of asparagus

The season is with us when everyone wandering around the countryside here seems to be carrying a bag. They are foraging for wild asparagus. But there is one side-effect which is never spoken of. Some people, between 22%-50% of us – are prone to smelly urine after eating asparagus.

Why? It is believed that during digestion the vegetable’s sulphurous compound called mercaptan (which is also found in rotten eggs, onions and garlic) breaks down into smelly chemical components. Because those components are volatile, ie. airborne, the odour wafts upward as the urine leaves the body. This unusual scent is evident quickly, as soon as 15 minutes after eating. Not everyone’s body experiences this process, and not everyone is able to smell it.

Try these recipes featuring asparagus:-
Asparagus and lemon risotto
Roasted asparagus
Wild asparagus and scrambled eggs for lunch

5 to remember
un efecto secundario – a side-effect
nunca se habla de – never spoken of
la orina – the urine
el olor – the odour
tan pronto como – as soon as

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A side-effect of asparagus #Food in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2ju via @Spanish_Valley 

Lentil and thyme casserole

We’ve become fans of these big pot stews, casseroles, call them what you will. They are hearty, tasty, filling, and they last more than one meal so are great when you have a busy day later in the week. Just store in the fridge in a bowl with a lid, and either reheat gently in a saucepan or gently in the microwave with the lid loosely on top. When reheating it may help to add a splash of water, to loosen up the sauce.

This casserole features fresh thyme, which we always have loads of, and my favourite earthy lentils. Eat with a spoon.

Serves 4
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tsp smoked pimenton
½ tsp cumin
1 tbsp dried thyme
3 medium carrots, sliced [about 200g]
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 yellow pepper, deseeded and chopped
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
250ml vegetable stock
2 courgettes, thickly sliced [about 300g]
2 sprigs fresh thyme
250g cooked lentils, green or brown, not split [if you are using dried and are cooking your own, we work on the basis that dried lentils are approximately half the weight of cooked]

First cook your lentils, if you are cooking your own rather than using a tin.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan. Add the onions and cook gently for 5-10 minutes until softened.

Add the garlic, spices, dried thyme, carrots, peppers and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the tinned tomatoes, stock, courgettes and fresh thyme and cook for 20-25 minutes. Take out the thyme sprigs, stir in the cooked lentils. Bring back to a simmer for a few minutes so the lentils are heated through. Serve in a bowl.

If you like this, try these:-
Asparagus and horseradish pasta 
Very cheesy pie
Golden drops of salt cod

5 to remember
la mitad del peso de – half the weight of
sin semillas – deseeded
hasta que se suavice – until softened
el tomillo seco – the dried thyme
calentado a través – heated through

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Eat this with a spoon: lentil & thyme casserole #food #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2iE via @Spanish_Valley

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Sticky tomato & onion bake

What a discovery this is. It sounds so simple it can’t be delicious, right? Wrong. Combine ordinary looking onions, cherry tomatoes and salad potatoes and roast. The magic of the oven turns this combination into a moreish sticky sweet feast.Sticky tomato & onion bake | Notes on a Spanish Valley blog… Living in rural Andalucía | food | recipesThis quantity is supposed to serve four, we ate two-thirds of it and could have polished it off. Nice with a side salad of rocket tossed with olive oil and lemon juice.

Serves 4
500g baby onions [we used ordinary white onions]
750g large cherry tomatoes
750g new potatoes, washed and halved
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
one 400g tin cannellini beans, drained
a small bunch of fresh basil

Preheat the oven to 210°C / fan 190° / gas 7.

If using baby onions, put them into a bowl and cover with boiling water. Use a slotted spoon to fish them out and peel back the skins which should be loosened by the hot water. Cut any large ones in half. If using ordinary onions, peel and cut into quarters or eighths. Sticky tomato & onion bake | Notes on a Spanish Valley blog… Living in rural Andalucía | food | recipesPut the onions into a big roasting tin. Add the tomatoes and halved potatoes. The tin may be full but squash everything in; the potatoes will be cooked in the juice of the tomatoes. Season generously with salt and pepper and pour over a little olive oil. Toss so everything is coated in oil.

Roast in the oven for one hour, tossing everything every 15 minutes. Sticky tomato & onion bake | Notes on a Spanish Valley blog… Living in rural Andalucía | food | recipesAfter an hour, remove the tray from the oven. At this stage, the onions should be soft and slightly browned in places, the tomatoes blistered. Add the drained beans and basil, stirring the beans into the vegetables [we didn’t and the beans on top were a little dry]. Put back into the oven for another 15 minutes. Sticky tomato & onion bake | Notes on a Spanish Valley blog… Living in rural Andalucía | food | recipesSticky tomato & onion bake | Notes on a Spanish Valley blog… Living in rural Andalucía | food | recipesServe with a lemon-dressed green salad.

5 to remember
un descubrimiento– a discovery
frijoles cannellini – cannellini beans
en este punto – at this stage
ligeramente dorado – slightly browned
ampollado – blistered

Notes on a Spanish Valley blog… Living in rural Andalucía | food | recipesThis recipe is from ‘A Modern Way to Eat’ by Anna Jones [UK: Fourth Estate]

If you feel hungry, try these recipes:-
A cassoulet of aubergines
Sweet potato and butter bean lasagne
A rosemary risotto

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Sticky tomato & onion bake #Spain #Recipe by Anna Jones @we_are_food https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2kn via @Spanish_Valley

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Spring orzo pasta

Really this is a Pasta Primavera recipe by another name, but it is fresh, quick and very tasty. Orzo is a type of small pasta made in the shape of a grain of rice, but your everyday choice of pasta will work just as well. It works with either fresh or frozen peas and broad beans, but do not stint on the Parmesan or pine nuts. Serves 4
200g dried orzo
200g frozen baby broad beans, defrosted and outer skin removed
200g frozen petits pois, defrosted
a knob of butter
1 tbsp oil
1 onion, sliced very thinly
2 garlic cloves, crushed
200g full-fat crème fraîche
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
juice and finely grated zest of a lemon
50g Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper
25g pine nuts, toasted

Cook the orzo in boiling salted water according to the packet instructions, until just cooked. Do not over cook, as it can become stodgy. Drain, and set aside.

Boil the broad beans and petits pois in a separate pan for 2-3 minutes, drain and rinse.

Meanwhile heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan, fry the onion over a high heat for 2-3 minutes. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat and cook gently for about 15 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic, turn up the heat and fry for 1 minute.

Stir in the crème fraîche. Next, add the cooked orzo, beans and peas, and gently heat. Add the thyme, lemon juice and zest, and half the Parmesan, stir together and season to taste.
If you like this, try these:-
Punchy leeks on toast
Stuffed butternut squash
Pasta with gorgonzola & pecans

 

This recipe is from Mary Berry’s Everyday cookbook [UK: BBC]

5 to remember
realmente – really
por otro nombre – by another name
en la forma de – in the shape of
un grano de arroz – a grain of rice
indigesto/a – stodgy/indigestible

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
More Parmesan! Spring orzo pasta #Recipe by #MaryBerry #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1YC

Not only for Easter

Torrijas. This eggy bread is another Spanish recipe which makes great use of leftovers. Although it is traditionally eaten at Easter, we eat it often for lunch or brunch. milk & cinnamon sticks in the pan 18-4-14plateful 18-4-14Serves 6

2 litres milk
300g sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 load of day-old white bread
Vegetable oil for frying [something flavourless like sunflower oil or peanut oil]
2 eggs, beaten
For the cinnamon coating:-
100g sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon

Place the milk, sugar and cinnamon stick in a pan and bring almost to boiling point, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and leave for about 15 minutes so the milk is infused with the cinnamon aroma. milk - boiled & standing 18-4-14Cut the bread into slices about 2-3cm thick. Place the bread slices in a large shallow dish and pour the milk over. bread - slice 18-4-14bread - soaking 18-4-14Chill for at least 2 hours, turning the slices over halfway through.

bread - two slices in frying pan 18-4-14Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, you need to be able to fry at least two slices of bread at a time. You could use butter instead of vegetable oil but beware, it burns more quickly. bread - dipped in egg 18-4-14When the oil is hot, quickly dip each slice of bread in the beaten egg [above] so that it is fully-coated and the place in the hot oil. Be careful not to burn your fingers!

After a couple of minutes, flip them over and fry for another minute or two until golden. Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper. cinnamon sugar - spoonful 18-4-14Mix together the sugar and ground cinnamon and sprinkle on both sides of the torrijas. Do this while they are still hot, as the sugary coating will stick more easily.

5 to remember
la Pascua – Easter
las sobras – the leftovers
a menudo – more often
desabrido/a – flavourless
el cacahuete – peanut

Looking for other breakfast options? Try these:-
A seedy berry thing for breakfast
A peach and brioche breakfast
Aubergines for breakfast
Tapas Revolution - book cover 2-9-13

 

Recipe from Tapas Revolution by Omar Allibhoy [UK: Ebury Press]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Torrijas: not only for Easter #recipe by @tapasrevolution via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Ls

Irresistible minestrone

This is our go-to winter meal. Real comfort food. A big batch makes three large meals for the two of us. It is crammed with vegetables and, as long as you stick to the basic framework, it can be varied according to what you have. It is a Jamie Oliver recipe, based on the classic Italian recipe for minestrone, but is so much more. First, it is a stew not a soup. Second, the addition of vacuum-packed chestnuts adds a glorious silkiness. Third, I defy you to be hungry after eating it.

We make a couple of amendments. Jamie includes bacon, we don’t. We add a small tin of tomato concentrate and a dash of Worcester sauce. It is pretty foolproof.

Serves 8
2 onions
2 carrots
800g butternut squash
15g fresh rosemary
15g fresh sage
100g vacuum-packed chestnuts
olive oil
2 400g tins plum tomatoes, chopped or whole
2 400g tins borlotti beans
1.2 litres vegetable stock
500g seasonal greens [we used kale]
100g dried pasta [we used slim macaroni]
small tin tomato concentrate
Worcester sauce, a dash

Peel and roughly chop the onions and carrots. Peel the butternut, discard the seeds, and chop into pieces about the same size as the carrots. Finely chop the rosemary, sage leaves and chestnuts.

Take the largest saucepan you have, heat a drizzle of oil over a medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, butternut, herbs and chestnuts and cook slowly, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes or until all the vegetables have softened.

Add the tomatoes and tomato concentrate to the pan, followed by the beans, stock and the dash of Worcester sauce. Stir, cover with a lid, and bring slowly to the boil. Leave to simmer for about 30 minutes until the butternut is cooked through.

Meanwhile prepare the greens. Remove any tough stalks then chop. If your pasta is in large pieces, wrap it in a tea towel and bash it into smaller pieces using a rolling pin. Add the greens and pasta to the pan and cook for a further 10 minutes or until the pasta is al dente. If the sauce has thickened, you can add a splash of water at this stage.

Season to taste and divide between bowls. This keeps well in the fridge so make a batch, divide into smaller bowls, cover and store to eat later in the week. It’s good with crusty bread if you are absolutely starving hungry!

5 to remember
un gran lote – a big batch
infalible – foolproof
envasado al vacío – vacuum-packed
las castañas – the chestnuts
una sedosidad gloriosa – a glorious silkiness

Don’t know what to eat for dinner tonight? Try one of these recipes:-
Something sweet to make with squash
A silky, dense chocolate cake
Red onion & cheese scones

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Irresistible minestrone: our go-to winter meal #food in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2i3 via @Spanish_Valley

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