A lacy butterfly

This delicate butterfly was tiny, half the size of my toenail, and beautifully patterned like hand-sewn lace. White and brown, not startling shots of red or orange as some cream butterflies have.

I am unsure what type of butterfly it is, but based on its distinctive ruffled shape and colouring, and using my basic butterfly books, I have identified two options:-

Oberthur’s Grizzled Skipper [below], the underside of the male is similar to my pale specimen. This butterfly is attracted to thyme, and this herb grows everywhere around us.

[photo: ukbutterflies.co.uk]

Or it may be a Geranium Bronze [below], accidentally introduced to Spain from its native South Africa through the importation of pelargoniums.

[photo rawbirds.com]

Or it may be something completely different. If you know what it is, please let me know.

5 to remember
mi uña de los pies – my toenail
la parte inferior – the underside
entrecano – grizzled
bronce – bronze
si sabes lo que es – if you know what it is

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A lacy butterfly, but what is it? #Butterflies in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-26C

Cauliflower salad with spinach yogurt

I have discovered a new favourite vegetable: roasted cauliflower. And not just in winter, but in summer salads. This is a warm salad with gentle Indian spices and a cooling spinach yogurt.

Serves 4-6
2 heads of cauliflower, broken into florets
1 tbsp ground cumin
3-5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
300g puy lentils, rinsed
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
15g fresh coriander leaves, chopped [I used parsley]
15g mint leaves
3 tbsp flaked almonds, toasted
Sea salt
Black pepper
For the spinach yogurt:-
1 tsp capers, rinsed and finely chopped
375g natural Greek yogurt
15g mint leaves, finely sliced
100ml extra virgin olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon
Sea salt
Black pepper
100g baby spinach leaves, washed and finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas 6.

Place the cauliflower florets on a large baking tray and sprinkle over the cumin. Drizzle over 1-2 tbsp oil and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 25-30 minutes until golden.  Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add the lentils and bay leaf. Cook for 20-25 minutes until the lentils are just tender. Drain.

Make the spinach yogurt: whizz together the spinach, capers, yogurt, mint and olive oil in a food processor. Squeeze over the lemon juice, season well with salt and pepper.

Fry the lentils: Heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan. Add the garlic, chopped coriander, paprika and cooked lentils. Season well with salt and sauté over a medium-high heat, shaking the pan to move the lentils around. Fry until the lentils are slightly crispy. To serve: spread the spinach yogurt onto a serving platter. Combine the roasted cauliflower with the fried lentils and herbs, drizzle with olive oil, season again to taste. Spoon the cauliflower mixture over the yogurt, and top with the toasted flaked almonds. If you like this, try:-
Mustardy Salmon Salad
Linguine with Broad Beans
Roasted Cauliflower Salad

5 to remember
suave – gentle
indio – Indian
las especias – the spices
una llovizna de – a drizzle of
servir – to serve

 

This recipe is from Neighbourhood: Salads, Sweets and Stories from Home and Abroad by Hetty McKinnon [UK: Shambhala]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Cauliflower & spinach: a warm spicy salad #Spain #Recipe by @hettymckinnon via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-25j

Abundance in the huerta

The huerta is at its messiest now as unpicked veggies bolt and plants get leggy. There are still veggies to be picked however, tomatoes are lingering beneath heavy branches collapsed onto the earth.

Tomatoes the size of small melons, which make excellent tomato sauce, squirrelled away in the freezer for a winter’s day when we long for the warmth of a summer day. Wrinkled, over-ripe vegetables are piled up, destined for Pablo’s pigs. Once the last vegetable is picked, the huerta will be ploughed into the earth again and so the cycle leading to next summer’s vegetables begins.

5 to remember
en su más sucio – at its messiest
zanquilargo – leggy
arrugado – wrinkled
ser arado – to be ploughed
el ciclo – the cycle

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Overflowing with abundance: the veggie patch in September #secretvalley #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-27i

Nothing tastes better than a home-grown tomato

Spanish finca for sale: 595,000. For more information, click here.

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Nothing tastes better than a home-grown tomato #villaforsale via @Spanish_Valley @HiddenAndalucia http://wp.me/p3dYp6-28x

After the almond harvest

I didn’t know, did you, that the almond nut is actually called a ‘drupe’ which grows from the tree’s fertilised flowers. The drupe has a leathery hull which surrounds the nut, furry, giving it the look of an unripe peach. When this outer husk dries and splits, it is time to harvest the almonds which for us is August.

I remember our first time in Spain, waking up early one August morning to a knocking sound in the distant hills. Mystified, we got out the binoculars and watched two men in an orchard. They were behaving oddly, knocking the trees with long sticks. I now realize that the method for harvesting almonds is similar to that of olives: spread a tarpaulin or net beneath the tree, whack the tree with a stick so the nuts fall.

Harvest here is over for the year, a few drupes still hang on the trees as a reminder that we missed a few.

Try these recipes featuring almonds:-
Hybrid Crumble
A Super Green Salad
Rice Pudding with Almonds

5 to remember
un casco – a hull
correoso – leathery
es tiempo de – it is time to
los binoculares – the binoculars
desconcertado – mystified

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
After the almond #harvest in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-275

Spicy butternut salad

This started off as a simple healthy salad, one of Deliciously Ella’s recipes. And then it got complicated. There was a bunch of asparagus to eat up, so that went in. When I was picking the rocket from a pot on the terrace, I noticed the oregano was looking good so I picked some of that for the dressing. The quantity of this recipe in the book serves 4, but after a morning of tennis and gardening we were starving. So I used the whole butternut. And then I realized there was no protein in the salad, so I added a small jar of chickpeas.

So it started off as an Ella salad, and ended up as a Sandra one. Oh, and I made a mistake with the dressing. I misread ‘tamari’ and put in tahini instead. It was delicious. Next time we eat this, I’ll try it with tamari.

Serves 4
1 large butternut squash [about 1kg]
Olive oil
1 tbsp pimenton [I used ½ dulce, ½ picante]
1 tbsp dried mixed herbs [I used thyme, basil, sage and parsley]
2 bags of rocket [about 150g]
180g pitted olives [I used green Spanish olives with the stones in]
2 avocados [I only had one]
Asparagus, cooked and cooled [optional]
Small jar of chickpeas, drained and rinsed [optional]
For the dressing:-
1 tbsp tamari [or tahini!]
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
Fresh oregano [optional]

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C] Peel the butternut squash, slice into bit-sized pieces. Place the pieces on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, then the paprika/pimenton and dried herbs. Mix everything well so it is all coated in seasonings.

Bake the squash for 40 minutes, stirring halfway through. Once it is cooked, it should be soft when tested with the tip of a knife, remove it from the oven and set aside to cool. If you tip it into a clean bowl, remember to scrape all the browned bits from the bottom of the baking tray.

To make the dressing: whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl, add a little salt and pepper to taste.

Next, to assemble the salad. I layered in the serving bowl as follows: rocket, chickpeas, asparagus, olives, avocado then butternut.

Drizzle the dressing over the top, then toss gently before serving. If you like this, try:-
Smoky spring onions and asparagus with lime
Red onion & cheese scones
Trempó: a salad from Mallorca

5 to remember
se complicó – it got complicated
el tenis – the tennis
la jardinería – the gardening
estaba delicioso – it was delicious
armar – to assemble

 

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:
Butternut + pimenton + avocado salad #Recipe by @DeliciouslyElla via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-25N

Año si año no

Some fruit trees have a tendency to bear a greater-than-average crop one year, followed by a lower-than-average crop the next. This pattern is known as ‘alternate bearing’ or ‘biennial bearing’ although Pablo calls this año si año no or ‘year yes year no’. So far our olive harvest has borne out this pattern, though our trees are young and have been harvested for only two years.

There is a theory that by giving the olive tree excessive nutrients in its first two years of life, alternate bearing can be minimized. This was not our experience. However summer pruning and perfect irrigation can make a difference, though we have not yet tried these techniques. Looking at the trees, this year is a yes year.

5 to remember
una tendencia – a tendency
este patrón – this pattern
rodamiento alterno – alternate bearing
bienal – biennial
una teoría– a theory

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Año si año no: growing #olives in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-26X