Tag Archives: Spain

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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Old ruins

The hardships of living in this countryside in centuries gone by are everywhere here. Old ruins. Roofs and ceilings collapsed, walls fallen, tiles foraged by passers-by. The skeletons of what were once farmhouses and outbuildings, once home to people and animals, stand as a monument to their previous inhabitants. Thick stone walls insulated against the heat of summer and the frost of winter, small windows minimised glare from the sun; all now surrounded by weeds with a coating of green moss and silvery lichen. These ruins stand isolated, a clue to the desertion of their occupants; no electricity, no running water. How hard the lives must have been of these farmers without our modern-day conveniences of broadband and satellite television, off-road vehicles and solar panels. But I know in my heart that we today have a deep connection with these disappeared people; we have all stood on our doorsteps, turned our faces to the sun and marvelled at the beauty of the countryside here.

5 to remember
en siglos pasados ​​por – in centuries gone by
una pista – a clue
la deserción de – the desertion of
las comodidades modernas – the modern-day conveniences
la puerta – the doorstep

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Old #ruins: who once lived here? #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2gW via @Spanish_Valley

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 

The Levant is blowing

Hot dry air parches the ground. But the olive farmers don’t mind as it kills the surface weeds and leaves moisture deep down for the roots of their trees, now heavy with flowers. It is the Levante or Levanter wind which blows from the east across the Mediterranean from May to October.

The origin of the Levante name is the same as the origin of the Levant, the region of the eastern Mediterranean. It is the Middle French word ‘levant’, the participle of lever ‘to raise’ — in Spanish levantar meaning to raise up, lift up, build, get up and levantarse meaning to get up in the morning. Both French and Spanish come from the Latin ‘levare’ and refers to the eastern direction of the rising sun. The opposite of the Levante wind is the Poniente which comes from the west, the term originates from the Spanish verb ponerse meaning to lay down, put down. In other words, the setting of the sun in the west.

5 to remember
el origen de – the origin of
la región – the region
la dirección este – the eastern direction
se origina de – originates from
significa que – meaning to

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The Levante wind is blowing in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-26r

Heavy with flowers

The things I knew about olives, before we lived in Spain, could be counted on five fingers. Olives with stones or without. Olives stuffed with anchovies. Olives stuffed with almonds. Green olives. Black olives. So here are some facts I’ve learned over the years that I’d like to share with you.

  1. To grow flowers and fruit, olive trees need a two month period of cold weather with temperatures dropping below 10°C or 50°F; and also a fluctuation between day and night time temperatures.
  2. There is such a thing as too hot and too dry which inhibit flowering, even though the tree itself is able to tolerate these conditions.
  3. There is also the problem of too much rain, although olives need rain in the autumn in order to fatten up.
  4. Olive trees are wind-pollinated. The flowers grow in late spring; there are two types. Perfect [containing both male and female parts] which are capable of developing into the olive fruits; and Male, containing only the pollen-producing parts.
  5. Fruit setting is often erratic and in some areas, especially where irrigation and fertilization are not practiced, bearing in alternate years is the rule. The trees may set a heavy crop one year and not even bloom the next. This happens around us.
  6. Not all buds will turn into blossom and subsequently into fruit. Some will become first shoots and then branches which, in turn, will generate new buds. And so the olive cycle is guaranteed.
  7. Fruit is produced at the tips of the previous year’s growth; so excessive pruning will prevent fruiting though thinning of the crop is recommended.
  8. The Spanish cure their olives in brine and eat them with a pinch of salt; our neighbours were perplexed by my jars of olives cured and bottled with rosemary, lemon, thyme and chilli.

5 to remember
para que – in order to
polinizado por el viento – wind-pollinated
después – subsequently/afterwards
errático – erratic
perplejo – perplexed

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A few facts about olives #secretvalley in #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2gL 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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