Tag Archives: Spanish food

Moorish rice with saffron braised carrots

I hesitate to call this dish a pilaf as that is an Indian term, but whatever the correct name is this is delicious. And it has limitless variations which makes it a great store cupboard meal. Served with carrots braised in a delicious saffron sauce, both dishes are quick and easy to make for a supper dos juntos or for a cozy supper with friends. The pilaf can be prepared in advance and reheated in a large frying pan.

Serves 4
For the pilaf:-
250g basmati rice [I used brown]
200g frozen broad beans
2 tbsp olive oil
3-4 large shallots, finely sliced [I used 2 red onions]
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp raisins
30g flaked almonds, dry toasted until pale golden
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the carrots:-
500g carrots, baby carrots if possible, washed and cut into batons
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tso cumin seeds
150ml water
generous pinch of saffron
½ tsp Marigold bouillon powder, or ½ crushed vegetable stock cube
4 large garlic cloves, finely sliced
a dash of Tabasco
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
To serve:-
A couple of generous tbsp of natural unsweetened yogurt
Juice of a lemon

Prepare the pilaf ingredients:-
Put the rice in a saucepan and cover with its volume in water. Leave the lid on at all times, the only exception being if you need to add a splash of extra water [as I did]. Bring the water to the boil and immediately reduce the heat to a very low simmer for 14 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to stand with the lid on for another 8 minutes. This method produces dry rice suitable for the frying to follow.

Meanwhile, cook the frozen broad beans, drain and set aside. Dry toast the almonds in a frying pan without oil, set aside. If, like me, you plan to eat this as a vegetarian main meal rather than a side dish, cook your puy lentils, drain and set aside until you are ready to eat. For the carrots:-
Place the carrots in a large saucepan [I used a deep, wide frying pan with lid] with the olive oil, ground cumin, cumin seeds, water, saffron, bouillon, garlic and Tabasco. Add seasoning as preferred. Toss well so the carrots are well covered with oil, and lay them flat in one layer. Cover with a lid and simmer for about 20 minutes, giving the pan a shake every now and then. Try not to lift the lid unless it looks as if it is sticking, if it is just give it a quick stir and replace the lid. If it looks a little dry, add a splash of water. Test with a knife to see if the carrots are ready, they should be covered in the sticky saffron sauce.

Assemble the pilaf:-
In a large wide frying pan, add the olive oil and heat gently. Fry the shallots for about 3 minutes and add the garlic, stirring until they are pale golden. When the shallots are almost cooked, add the cumin seeds [if you forget, as I did, they are fine if added with the rice]. Now, add the cooked rice, broad beans, raisins and lentils [if using]. Return to a gentle heat and stir to combine until thoroughly heated through. This process will take as long as it takes for the carrots to cook.

Serve the rice with the flaked almonds sprinkled on top, with a side of carrots and lemon-flavoured yogurt. What would I do differently next time?
Substitute frozen peas for the frozen broad beans
Stir fresh spinach into the hot rice and allow it to wilt
Substitute chopped dried apricots or dates for the raisins
Substitute a tin of chickpeas for the cooked puy lentils
Serve with braised green beans, cooked in the same way as the carrots
Serve with roasted aubergine, sliced and tossed with olive oil and roasted on a tray in the oven

If you like this, try:-
A courgette and halloumi feast
A cassoulet of aubergines
Asparagus and lemon risotto

5 to remember
dos juntos– two together
un batido– a shake
si parece un poco seco– if it looks a little dry
las semillas de comino – the cumin seeds
sabor a limón– lemon-flavoured


This recipe is from ‘The Cranks Bible’ by Nadine Abensur [Weidenfeld & Nicolson]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Moorish rice with saffron braised carrots #Spain #vegetarianfood https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2vi via @Spanish_Valley

Mint, lime & lentil salad

This is one of those salads which is more than the sum of its parts. Trust me and try it. Season with a heavy hand and if, like us, you like a refreshing citrus flavour in your salads, feel free to increase the amount of lime or lemon juice you use. It looks very pretty with the courgette strips which only take a couple of moments to do. A large bowl of this salad is filling but when we are especially hungry we serve it with a side of roasted sweet potatoes. This is a recipe by Ella Mills who suggests adding various optional extras including roasted cashews, pomegranate seeds, bean sprouts or thinly sliced mushrooms.

Serves 4
100g green lentils
3 medium courgettes
2 handfuls fresh mint
2 avocados
4 tbsp olive oil
juice of 4 limes or 2 lemons
large handful sunflower seeds, toasted
cashew nuts, toasted [optional]
For the roasted sweet potatoes:-
4 sweet potatoes
2 sprigs fresh rosemary If you are eating this with roasted sweet potatoes, prepare these first. Preheat the oven to 200°C /fan 180°C. Peel the potatoes and cut into slivers and wedges, put onto a baking tray. Drizzle over with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Chop the rosemary roughly and add to the potatoes, then toss so each potato is covered with oil. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, checking them and turning. Remove when they are tender when tested with a sharp knife.

To prepare the salad, first place the lentils in a saucepan with boiling water. Allow to boil for 10 minutes then turn down the heat and simmer for another 20-30 minutes until they are soft, not mushy. Drain, allow the lentils to cool.

Peel the courgettes into strips using a potato peeler. Pull the mint leaves off the stems and chop roughly. Slice the avocado into bite-sized chunks. When you are ready to serve, place the lentils, courgette, avocado and mint into a serving bowl. Add the seeds and nuts if using, and toss gently taking care not to break up the avocado. Drizzle over the oil and lime juice, and serve with the roasted sweet potatoes. If you like this,try:-
Potato, Tarragon and Cabbage Pie 
Brazil nut pesto pasta
Sticky tomato & onion bake

5 to remember
créeme – trust me
se ve muy bonito – it looks very pretty
extras opcionales – optional extras
asado – roasted
trozos del tamaño de un bocado – bite-sized chunks


‘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:
Mint, lime & lentil salad #Recipe by @DeliciouslyElla #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2kX via @Spanish_Valley






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


If you like this, try other recipes by Jamie Oliver.
‘Everyday Super Food’ by Jamie Oliver [UK: Michael Joseph]

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

Freshly-picked salad

The three fresh elements of this salad were picked and prepared immediately, we ate them for lunch 10 minutes after picking. And we could tell the difference. I swear that this simple mixture of home-grown tomato, cucumber and basil, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic, tasted of the sun. The tomato in particular retained the warmth of the sun, it was unbelievably sweet. The pepino, the Spanish variety of cucumber which is shorter and fatter than English cucumbers with a thick skin that we discard, was the crunchiest I have eaten. freshly-picked salad - bowl 6-8-13The only thing to accompany it was a glass of shandy. An exceptional lunch on a day when heat on the terrace reached 40° and the water in the swimming pool was 28°.
freshly-picked salad - shandy 6-8-135 to remember
el elemento – element
la diferencia – difference
de la huerta propia – home-grown [vegetables]
la variedad – variety
más crujiente – crunchiest

First flowers

The first flowers have appeared in the veg patch. courgette flower 29-6-13Five in total, three on the courgettes and two tomato flowers. We will keep a close eye on the courgettes as we prefer to eat them as small as possible. Courgettes flowers are another favourite, washed thoroughly and dried, then filled with cream cheese and chopped fresh herbs, and lightly fried. tomato flower 29-6-135 to remember
la flor – flower
la huerta – vegetable patch
preferimos – we prefer
as small as possible – tan pequeño como posible
wash thoroughly – lavar bien

Silky squash and blue cheese pasta

We eat squash throughout the year in Spain. In winter we make this pasta, in summer we roast the squash and have it as a salad with rocket, feta and toasted pine nuts. We eat a lot of toasted nuts: our own walnuts in cakes, salads and pesto, pine nuts in salads even though they are so horribly expensive in Spain, and almonds especially as they are our own and so creamy when freshly picked. butternut squash pasta - chopped squash 20-5-13This was originally a Nigella Lawson recipe torn from a magazine, but the page is ragged now and some of the type has rubbed away over the years so this is the way we make it. If we buy the squash it is butternut, otherwise it’ll be a slice of a huge unidentifiable globular squash given to us by our neighbour P. butternut squash pasta - in the pan 20-5-131 onion, chopped
olive oil
1 tsp pimentón picante
½ tsp pimentón dulce
1 large butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp Marsala or sweet sherry
120 ml water
salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
500g pasta
100g pine nuts
125g any soft blue cheese, crumbled

Fry the onion gently in the olive oil in a large lidded pan, over a medium heat. Don’t let it brown. Add the paprika, stir, then add the squash and butter. Stir well, add the Marsala and water and bring to the simmer. Put the lid on and turn down the heat, simmer for about 20 minutes until the squash is tender but still holds its shape. Add the sage.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water. Toast the pine nuts in a separate hot dry pan, tip them into a bowl and set aside.

Before draining the pasta, reserve a mugful of the cooking water. Add the drained pasta to the squash and slowly stir to combine. Add some of the pasta cooking water to help the sauce emulsify, then add the blue cheese and half the pine nuts. Gently combine and serve. butternut squash pasta - plateful 20-5-135 to remember
la calabaza – squash
el jerez – sherry
el queso azul – blue cheese
el piñon – pine nut
el pimentón – paprika

Más asparagus

This time the tastes are sharper, saltier.  This is a v light lunch, best with bread and unsalted butter. Or simply double-up the quantities if you are feeling greedy. more asparagus - in the griddle pan 23-5-13Serves 2
Bunch of asparagus
Sea salt
Juice of a half lemon
Parmesan, shaved with a potato peeler
Olive oil

Wash and trim the asparagus, dry thoroughly. Put into a bowl and toss with a good slug of olive oil. Assemble all other ingredients.

Heat a ridged griddle pan until it is smoking, the griddle pan should always be heated dry. The food is oiled, not the pan.

Add the asparagus to the pan, do not leave it as it burns easily. Turn asparagus with a pair of tongs so it is nicely striped. Test with the point of a sharp knife to check if it is cooked, which will take only a couple of minutes.

Serve on a plate, sprinkle with sea salt and lemon juice. Pile the shaves of parmesan on top.

This is excellent with a glass of cold fino sherry. more asparagus - plateful 23-5-135 to remember
la sal – salt
el zumo de limón – lemon juice
la plancha – griddle pan
más – more
el tazón – bowl

Spicy tomatoes on toast

We have loads of ways of eating tomatoes, perhaps over a hundred. I think this is meant as a breakfast dish, but we eat it more at lunchtime at midday. The bigger the tomatoes, the better. It is best with the huge green ensalada Spanish ones which have fantastic flavour, but the spices will jazz up any weakly English supermarket tomatoes too. spiced tomatoes on toast 21-5-13This is not our invention, it comes from an Antony Worrall Thompson book The Essential Diabetes Cookbook which means it is low-fat and low-GI. None of that matters, it tastes amazing. This is our ‘even spicier version.’ spiced tomatoes on toast - recipe 21-5-13Serves 2
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp fennel seeds
2 spring onions sliced, or one small onion diced
1 tsp ground cumin
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thinly
1 tsp chilli powder
½ tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp black mustard seeds
4 large tomatoes, thickly sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
Thick slices of bread for toasting

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the spices [except the chilli powder], seeds, onion and garlic and stir-fry until the spices release their aroma. Add the chilli powder and the tomatoes, and cook for three minutes or until the tomatoes start to soften. Thicker slices take longer. Meanwhile, toast the bread and butter it. Serve the tomatoes on the toast.

5 to remember
el desayuno – breakfast
el almuerzo – lunch
a mediodía – at midday
el sabor – flavour
con muchas especías – spicy

Eggy asparagus or asparagusy eggs

My absolute favourite food in the world is an egg. Fried is my favourite but not the healthiest, poached is second, then boiled, then scrambled.  My favourite springtime food is asparagus. So we tend to eat a combination of the two a lot in May. This is a new version of the divine duo, seen on TV cooked by Scottish chef Tom Kitchin. It is divine with crusty bread for dipping in the juices. If greedy, double the quantities. At the moment we are eating asparagus almost every day, so watch out for more recipes! asparagus with poached egg & balsamic - plateful 20-5-13Serves 2
bunch of asparagus
2 eggs
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2-3 tbsp vegetable stock asparagus with poached egg & balsamic - pan 20-5-13Wash and trim the asparagus. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the asparagus and fry gently. After a couple of minutes, add the vinegars and cook gently until the asparagus is cooked. Remove the asparagus from the pan but leave the pan on the heat. Add a little hot stock to the vinegar and reduce to make a thickened sauce [below]. At the same time, poach eggs in a separate saucepan. Place the eggs on top of the cooked asparagus, drizzle with the vinegar reduction, and sprinkle with a good pinch of black pepper. asparagus with poached egg & balsamic - vinegar 20-5-13
5 to remember
favorito/a – favourite
el mundo – world
el huevo frito – fried egg
el huevo escalfadopoached egg
los revueltos
– scrambled eggs

A vegetable stew from Granada

This is our favourite way of eating up the spring glut of artichokes, broad beans and asparagus. The recipe comes from a charming book by Elizabeth Luard, The Flavours of Andalucía. The asparagus, because we have lots, and chick peas, for protein and to make it low-GI, are our additions to her recipe. Early season habas can be cooked in their whole pods. The seasoning of cumin and paprika makes this a Moorish-influenced dish, as to be expected from Granada. It feels like eating a bowl of spring. granada veg stew - artichoke 30-4-13Habas a la Granadina
1lb young broad beans in the pod or 12oz podded beans
Bunch of asparagus
2 large artichokes or 6 tiny violet ones
6 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, skinned and chopped
1 large onion, skinned and finely chopped
8oz tomatoes, skinned and finely chopped
Small bunch of parsley, mint and bay leaf
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
Jar or tin of chick peas
3-4 saffron threads
1tsp cumin seeds [Luard says ½ tsp but we like more]
1tsp paprika [½  dulce, ½ picante]
2 eggs, optional
Serves 2 as a vegetarian main course granada veg stew - broad beans 30-4-13If the beans are young enough to use whole, string them and chop into small lengths. Otherwise, pod them. If using large artichokes, cut off the stalks, peel off the tough outer leaves right down to the base, leaving the tender inner leaves, and cut the artichoke into quarters. Nick out the exposed feathery ‘choke’ with a knife. If using small artichokes, wash and trim. If preparing artichokes ahead of time, put them in a bowl of water with the juice of half a lemon. granada veg stew - recipe 30-4-13Warm 4 tbsp of the olive oil in a large frying pan on a low heat, add the onion and garlic and let it sweat until softened and starting to colour. Add the tomatoes, turn up the heat, reduce it to a thick sauce.

Put the prepared beans, artichokes and chopped asparagus into a large saucepan, covered with cold water. Bring them to the boil then drain. Tip the tomato sauce into this pan with the vegetables. Add enough water to submerge the vegetables, tuck in the bunch of herbs, season. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer over a low heat for 30-40 minutes until the juice is reduced by half.

Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and stir in the breadcrumbs. When they are golden, sprinkle in the saffron, cumin and paprika. Remove the pan from the heat, and mash the spicy breadcrumb mixture together. Stir this into the pan with the vegetables, add the chick peas and simmer for another 5-10 minutes. granada veg stew - elizabeth luard book 30-4-13Just before serving, make dents in the surface of the stew with the back of a ladle and break in one egg per person. Cover, and simmer for 5 minutes until the eggs are lightly set. Alternatively, poach the eggs in a separate pan, and add to the plate when serving.

Eat with plenty of crusty bread. granada veg stew - plateful 30-4-135 to remember
el sartén – frying pan
el aceite
– oil
las habas – broad beans
el perejil – parsley
el comino – cumin