Tag Archives: Spain

Baked pesto and tomato pasta

We ate this recipe for the first time on a chilly Spring day when a salad just wouldn’t cut it. This is a recipe by Anna Jones who describes it as a vegan version of Macaroni Cheese, which she calls ‘Mac and Greens’; but I don’t think that does it justice. It is a pasta bake with multi-layered flavours – tomato, basil, broccoli, plus the silky texture of butternut squash – that just happens not to be made with cheese sauce.

Serves 6 not so hungry people, or 4 hungry ones
1 large bunch of fresh basil
50g rolled oats
a head of broccoli
olive oil
300g cherry tomatoes
150g toasted blanched almonds
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
300g pasta of your choice [we used gluten-free which worked well]
one 400g piece of squash, deseeded and cut into thin slices [we used a butternut]

Preheat the oven to 200°C / fan 180°C / gas 6. Put a large saucepan of salted water on to boil.

Put half the basil, oats, broccoli, a good glug of olive oil and the seasoning into a food processor. Pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. It will be a bit damp, but that’s okay. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Rinse the food processor and add the tomatoes, almonds, remaining basil and 2 tbsp olive oil. Whizz to a nearly smooth paste, season and whizz again. Set aside. When the water is boiling, add your chosen pasta and sliced squash. Cook together for half the time this type of pasta usually takes, it should be fairly undercooked. Drain and reserve a mug of the pasta water.

Return the pasta to the saucepan, add the tomato mixture and stir. Add a little of the reserved pasta water at a time, stirring, until the sauce becomes the consistency of double cream. It needs to be a bit runny as the pasta will soak up the sauce during baking.

Transfer this mixture to a large baking dish or casserole. Sprinkle the green crumbs across the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is crunchy and golden. 

Remove from the oven and wait 10 minutes before serving.

What would I do differently next time:-
add a tablespoon of tomato puree to the tomato mixture
add one crushed garlic clove to the basil mixture

5 to remember
la textura sedosa – the silky texture
cuando el agua está hirviendo – when the water is boiling
la consistencia de – the consistency of
tiene que ser un poco chorreante – it needs to be a bit runny
machado – crushed

This recipe is from ‘A Modern Way to Eat’ by Anna Jones [UK: Fourth Estate]

If you feel hungry, try these recipes:-
Lentil and thyme casserole
A creamy coconut stew
A sweet creamy frittata

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Baked pesto and tomato pasta #Spain#Recipe by Anna Jones@we_are_food https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2lh via @Spanish_Valley

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Lizard versus Cricket

I don’t often have the opportunity to take live action photographs, so I was chuffed with this series of wild nature in action on our terrace. The cricket put up quite a fight with a couple of big jumps but the lizard anticipated where he would land and was there waiting.

I’m no wildlife expert but I think the lizard is a Large Psammodromus because of his long tail and the two long white stripes along his flanks. The male has a blue spot on its shoulder and this one doesn’t, so I’m guessing it’s a she. Very strong with a thicker head than our usual Iberian Wall Lizards and without the vertebral stripes on the tail. The cricket is more difficult to identify as there are 40 types of cricket. Most are dark brown, this one is creamy grey. I’m guessing it is a King Cricket. How do I know it’s a cricket and not a grasshopper? Because crickets have long antennae, while grasshoppers have short.

5 to remember
la oportunidad– the opportunity
un lagarto– a lizard
un grillo– a cricket
un saltamontes– a grasshopper
las antenas– the antennae

 

Collins Photoguide: Complete Mediterranean Wildlife’ [UK: Collins]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Lizard versus Cricket #Nature in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2vW via @Spanish_Valley 

Tomato and coconut cassoulet

This is an easy-to-make cassoulet which can be prepared the night before and then thrown in the oven for a quick lunch. The creamy combination of coconut milk and tomato works, with a gentle background flavour of ginger and mild chilli. If you like your chillies hotter, then choose a smaller red variety. Mine was rather large! The one thing I wasn’t sure about was the addition of bread, I added one slice and wished I hadn’t as it soaked up sauce and was soggy. Next time, I will omit the bread.

Serves 4-6
Olive oil
1 leek, washed, trimmed and roughly sliced
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
a 1cm thick piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
one 400g tin chopped tomatoes
4 tbsp coconut milk
one 400g tin haricot beans [I used butter beans]
500g vine or cherry tomatoes
a bunch of fresh basil
4 slices of sourdough bread

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6.

Heat an ovenproof casserole on a medium heat on the hob, add a slosh of olive oil. Add the leeks, garlic, chilli and ginger, and a pinch of pepper. Turn down the heat and cook for 10 minutes on low until the leeks are soft and sweet.

 

Next add the tinned tomatoes, coconut milk and beans. Simmer for a couple of minutes, then remove from the heat. Check the seasoning.

Scatter over the fresh tomatoes and basil, then tear the bread into chunks and tuck it into the mixture. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the tomatoes have shrunk and sweetened.

 

This recipe is from ‘A Modern Way to Eat’ by Anna Jones [UK: Fourth Estate]

 

 

5 to remember
un suave sabor de fondo – a gentle background flavour
una cazuela por horno – an ovenproof casserole
rasgar – to tear
los pedazos – the chunks
reducido/a – shrunken

If you feel hungry, try these recipes:-
Very cheesy pie
Cheesy coleslaw: what’s not to like?
A creamy coconut stew

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Tomato and coconut cassoulet #Spain #Recipe by Anna Jones @we_are_food https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2g3 via @Spanish_Valley

Fifty Shades of Gold #40

A field of sunflowers ready for harvest. August 22, 2013

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A field of sunflowers ready for harvest #countryside in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2bP

Crunchy tahini green salad

If you have a selection of green vegetables and a jar of tahini in the fridge, then make this salad. It is greater than the sum of its parts. It works in winter, slightly warm, or in summer, chilled. And it’s a great way of packing in your servings of healthy green vegetables. This time I included a few sorrel leaves from the garden. It can be a served as a side to a main dish. Or, if like us, you want to eat vegetarian, simply add a pack of lentil seeds. We like to include three types of vegetables, crinkly ones such as cavolo nero and broccoli work well as they hold the dressing well.

Serves 4
For the greens:-
4 tbsp seeds, such as pumpkin or sunflower
4 tbsp nuts, such as pistachios
1 tbsp maple syrup [optional]
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
500g mixed seasonal green vegetables [see below for suggested combinations]
For the dressing:-
2 tbsp tahini
juice of 1 lemon
2 tsps maple syrup
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Suggested vegetable combinations:-
Winter – purple sprouting broccoli, kale, cavolo nero
Spring – purple sprouting broccoli, asparagus, sugar snaps
Summer – green beans, broccoli, peas
Autumn – shredded Brussels sprouts, winter greens

First, prepare the seeds. We prefer to toast them lightly in a dry frying pan, this gives the taste but saves on sugar. If you prefer the maple syrup seeds, first preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Put the seeds and nuts on a baking tray, pour over the maple syrup and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss so everything is coated in syrup, then roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Take out of the oven and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, make the dressing by combining the ingredients with a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.

Next, prepare the greens for blanching in hot water. As a general rule, purple sprouting broccoli [40 seconds], kale [30 seconds], asparagus [60 seconds], green beans [40 seconds], broccoli [40 seconds], shredded sprouts [30 seconds], winter greens [30 seconds]. The aim is for the vegetables to be al dente. Blanch each vegetable in turn by plunging into boiling water. 

Once the greens are blanched, drain and place in a serving dish. Pour over the dressing lentil seeds and toss so everything is coated. Top with the roasted seeds and nuts, and, if using, the lentil seeds. 5 to remember
una selección de – a selection of
un tarro de tahini – a jar of tahini
una pizca de – a pinch of
al dente – al dente
blanqueado – blanched

This recipe is from ‘A Modern Way to Eat’ by Anna Jones [UK: Fourth Estate]

If you feel hungry, try these recipes:-
Asparagus and lemon risotto
Sweet carrot salad
Roasted cauliflower salad

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Crunchy tahini green salad #Spain#Recipe by Anna Jones@we_are_food https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2kF via @Spanish_Valley

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Oleanders, joyous and life-affirming

Vincent van Gogh famously painted sunflowers during his time at Arles in France. But he also painted oleanders. He reportedly found them ‘joyous’ and ‘life-affirming’ because of their inexhaustible blooms and vigour. I know what he means

Oleanders by Vincent Van Gogh [photo: Wikipedia]

Our oleanders continue to flower from spring through autumn, in a mixture of red, pink and white. Now taller than me, oleanders can grow up to 6m tall. On our terraces, they mix with climbing roses, ivy and tall grasses. No sooner have the petals started to shrivel on one plant, than buds form on another. Even the dead flower bracts have appeal.

Oleander is a famously toxic garden plant, though huge quantities have to be consumed. Birds are thought to be immune; a fact that our sparrows and blackbirds can confirm as they regularly seek the shade of the oleanders on summer days.

5 to remember
jubiloso – joyous
marchitarse – to shrivel
una bráctea de flores– a flower bract
tóxico – toxic
un hecho que– a fact that

 

If you’d like to read more about Vincent van Gogh in Arles, the sunflowers and the oleanders, read ‘The Yellow House’ by Martin Gayford [UK: Penguin]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Oleanders, always flowering, always a new season in #Spain #gardening https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2pu via @Spanish_Valley 

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Bird song: Crested Lark

There are six types of Lark in Spain, according to my bird book. Five are residents: the Skylark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Woodlark and Calandra Lark. The Short-Toed Lark is a summer visitor. I am confident in identifying only one, the Crested Lark, because of the crest on its head which looks like a teenage boy with a quiff sticking up. Admittedly, the Thekla Lark has a crest too, but not quite as prominent. As a rule of thumb, if it is perching on a bush it is a Thekla Lark.

Its call is rich and fluting, often ending on an up note. ‘Vee-vee-teu’ and ‘tree-loo-ee’.
Listen to the song of the Crested Lark at You Tube.

5 to remember
la alondra con cresta – the Crested Lark
los residentes – the residents
estoy confiado/a – I am confident
un adolescente – a teenage boy
un quiff – a quiff

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Blackbird
Jay
Black Redstart

 

Our most used bird book?
Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe [UK: Collins]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
How does the Crested Lark sing? #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2al