Writing my post on the Vea estates in Catalonia last week brought back memories of some of great dishes the I have enjoyed when visiting that area. Here are just a few of them.
Escalavida …and beyond
The first of my recipes for this post comes from the Vea family. I asked for the recipe after I tasted the dish for the first time during my al fresco lunch in groves. The vegetables used always include red peppers and aubergines but every Catalan household has its own version. In her superb book The True Food of Spain Monica Linton suggests adding potatoes and onions, but garlic, anchovies and black olives are other additions that I have encountered.
I have kept my recipe quite traditional as it is so simple and easy to make. The best way to grill the vegetables is on an open wood fire or on a barbecue as they were for that lunch I enjoyed in Spain. This method gives them a really smoky taste. However, an electric grill or oven will, of course, do instead!
These quantities will serve four people.
- 2 aubergines
- 2 red peppers
- L’Estornell extra virgin olive oil
- 12 anchovies (optional)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1.Place the whole aubergines and peppers on the grill or in a hot oven and cook for 15-20 minutes, turning over from time to time. The vegetables are ready when the skin has charred and is beginning to blacken all over and the flesh is soft.
2.Leave to cool and then peel both vegetables, removing the seeds from the peppers. Cut into strips.
3.Place the strips of aubergine and pepper on a serving plate. You may like to arrange them in a lattice pattern
4.Pour on plenty of extra virgin olive oil. Decorate with anchovies if using and season to taste. You may not need much salt if you are using the anchovies.
Chorizo Sausages with Green Beans
This recipe comes from another of my favourite Arbquina extra virgin olive oil suppliers: Mother’s Garden. “We all love this dish” say Martin and Maggie at Mother’s Garden in northern Spain. “It makes a great supper dish or a warming meal in the middle of the day. You can use any kind of chorizo sausage. Or you might like to substitute botifarra blood sausages like the ones made in Priorat nearby. Serve with lots of crusty bread to mop up the juices.”
These quantities will easily feed four people.
- 100 ml Mother’s Garden extra virgin olive oil
- 3 large onions, Spanish variety if possible, thinly slice
- 2/3 cloves of garlic, thickly sliced
- 2 peppers, one red and one green, cut in half, deseeded and cut into chunks
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 4 small chorizo sausages (75 g each)
- 200 g flat green beans
- Sea salt and black pepper
1.Pour the oil into a large, deep frying pan or saucepan. When the oil is hot (but not smoking) add the onions and a little salt. Turn down the heat and cook slowly, stirring occasionally until sweet and golden. This could take up to 20 minutes.
2.Add garlic, bay leaves and peppers and cook for further 10 minutes.
3.Remove the skins from the chorizo sausages and slice or cut into chunks.
4.When the peppers have softened, add the beans and chorizo sausages. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for another 15-20 minutes or until the beans are tender.
5.Season with pepper and extra salt, if necessary.
Catalan Chicken with Prunes
This is another local dish with a plethora of slightly different recipes championed by different families in the region, but prunes, tomatoes and pine nuts are a must. This recipe is my adaptation of another recipe in Monika Linton’s The True Food of Spain.
This amount serves four people
- 12 g sun dried tomatoes, soaked
- 14 prunes, soaked
- 4 tbs Arbequina extra virgin olive oil
- 8 chicken thigh joints, skinned
- 1 large onion, peeled and sliced
- A little grated lemon zest
- 150 ml white wine
- chicken stock
- 2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 5o g pine nuts
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Start by covering the sun dried tomatoes and prunes in boiling water. Leave to stand for a hour. Drain off the liquid and boil to reduce by half.
2.Heat the oil in a heavy based casserole dish and brown the chicken thighs all over. Remove from the pan and keep on one side.
3 Add the onions and lemon zest to the pan and cook over a medium heat until they turn golden in colour.
4.Return the chicken to the pan and pour on the wine. Bring to the boil.
5.Mix the reduced soaking liquid from the tomatoes and prunes with chicken stock to make up to 200 ml and add to the pan. Return to the boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
6.Add the tomatoes and pine nuts and seasoning and continue cooking for another 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked and the juices have thickened.
Some of these and a range of other family recipes from the producers are available in my book Remarkable Recipes From the people who really know about extra virgin olive oil – the Producers This is available in spiral softback from my website or in ebook format from Amazon Kindle.
L’Estornell is on sale in Booths stores in the North East, Selfridges in London and in a number of small delicatessen and specialist shops around the country. Check with the oil merchant at om.oilmerchant.co.uk for stockists.
Mother’s Garden extra virgin olive oil is on sale direct from the Mother’s Garden website.