Tag Archives: Spanish food

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