Tomato and Chorizo Salad and 11 Things I Learned in Sevilla

Mr. F and I spent the beginning of 2011 fulfilling our dream of travelling around Europe. We spent a lot of our time in different parts of Spain – hitting the major cities like Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia and spending a larger chunk of time in Sevilla and San Sebastian.

This time last year we had just arrived for a month-long stay in the Southern city of Sevilla in Andalucía. Not knowing much about the city or the region, our 5 weeks there were full of new discoveries.

11 (mostly food-and-drink-related) Things I Learned in Sevilla:

  1. Sevilla is the hottest city in Europe. Don’t go there in summer, the Old City is essentially an oven and will cook you.
  2. You will never regret spending money on jamón.
  3. Siestas are totally necessary. By 3pm, the sun is at its hottest and the only thing you will want to do is nap. Plus, everyone else is doing it.
  4. Sangria is for tourists. Don’t order it unless you want to drink straight sugar with a hint of cheap wine.
  5. Don Simon pre-made sangria is one of cheapest alcoholic beverages you can buy in a Spanish supermarket.
  6. Shop for food at the mercado not the supermercado.
  7. The tapas crawl is a spectacular invention.
  8. Do not buy Spanish wine that is not D.O. or D.O.C. certified. If it doesn’t have the Denominación de Origen Calificada stamp on it, it is very possible that you are drinking vinegar that may or may not get you drunk.
  9. City-wide bike hire systems are awesome when properly executed. (Sevilla 1, Brisbane 0.)
  10. I can pack a mean picnic.
  11. Chorizo should be involved in most things. (Technically not learned in Sevilla, but reinforced.)

Jamie Oliver, bless him, prepared this salad in an Andalucian field. I made it in my kitchen and it still turned out pretty well.

For some bonus authenticity: pronounce it choreetho like the Spaniards and Jamie do!

Tomato and Chorizo Salad
adapted just slightly from Jamie Oliver’s recipe.

- 3 cups chopped tomatoes (I used cherry)
– 1 small red onion, finely chopped
– 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
– 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, divided
– 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
– 1/4 cup basil, chopped
– salt and pepper
– 1 chorizo sausage, sliced into rounds
– 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

Combine chopped tomatoes, onion, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar, parsley, half of the basil and a bit of salt and pepper in a large bowl. Set aside.

Heat remaining olive oil in a large pan over a high heat. Add chorizo and cook, tossing occasionally until the chorizo it deeply browned and the natural, orange oils have been released. Add the garlic to the pan and toss quickly. Turn off the heat and let the garlic sizzle for about 20-30 seconds. Finish off the pan with the last tablespoon of white wine vinegar and let simmer in the pan for another minute.

With a slotted spoon, remove the chorizo and garlic from the oil and pour over the salad. Reserve oil for later use (Jamie suggests using it with some chicken.) Scatter salad with remaining basil and serve with crusty bread.

Jamie also suggests serving this with a small glass of sherry, I say a large glass of Rioja, D.O.C. of course.

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Chili: Always a Good Time

Veggie-Packed Black Bean Chili

It’s been unseasonably rainy and cool in Sydney lately, save the beautiful weekend that just past. Since it’s expected to carry on like this for another month (I don’t think this has anything to do with Ground Hog’s Day, but I can’t be sure) – it’s best to just happily embrace it.

At least undesirable weather gives me an excuse to cook hearty meals that make staying inside a little more fun. And let’s face it: a big pot of chili is always a good time!

Don’t worry, I have a garnish that will make the meat lovers come around to this otherwise vegetarian chili. A generous sprinkling of crispy chorizo on top of this colorful chili will kick it into omnivore territory and add another layer of smokey flavor.

Good tortilla chips, avocado and a nice sharp cheddar are strongly encouraged as additional garnishes.

Veggie-Packed Black Bean Chili
(Serves 4-6)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 large (5 small) cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 medium sized red pepper, roughly chopped
1 medium sized green pepper, roughly chopped
2 cups squash or pumpkin, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons mild chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon smokey paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of chopped chipotle pepper in Adobo sauce
3 cups of cooked black beans
1 cup of corn kernels (canned or frozen and thawed works)
1 can (1 1/2 cups) of diced tomatoes
1 cup water
1 chorizo sausage, finely diced and browned in a pan until crispy (optional)
In a large pot with a lid, heat olive oil over a medium high heat. Add the onions with a pinch of salt and cook for about 3-4 minutes until tender. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add peppers (both red and green) and cook for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant, stirring often. Add squash and carrot, cook for another 2 minutes.
Add spices and stir to coat the onions, pepper, and pumpkin and cook for 1 minute. Pour black beans, corn, tomatoes, and water in the pot and stir to combine everything well and season with salt, to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover.
Cook covered for 30 minutes, stirring gently every five minutes or so. Test the squash, if tender then you’re good to go, although this does benefit for sitting covered and warm for an hour or so and then re-heating when ready to eat.
For meat-lovers chorizo garnish: place diced chorizo in a dry pan heated over a medium-high heat. Let cook until the oils are released and the chorizo is deep golden brown. Scatter over individual bowlfuls along with any other garnishes desired.

  • Butternut squash is particularly good for holding its shape. For tips on pealing and dicing your squash, here’s a Food52 video.
  • If I have leftover roasted squash on hand, I’ll use that instead – cut it into 1-inch chunks and add to the pot in the last 10 minutes of cooking.
  • If I can’t find chipotle peppers in Adobo (like when I’m in Australia) I use 2 tablespoons of smokey BBQ sauce.

Broccoli and Roasted Garlic Pesto

+ Green Veg-Packed Pasta with Chorizo

I feel like sometimes I don’t let broccoli live up to its full potential.

This, however, is not about one of those times.

I had a big bunch of steamed broccoli sitting in a Tupperware container in my fridge, which I had the vague intention of throwing into salads over the next couple of days. But something just didn’t feel right. I decided I needed to do something special with that broccoli.

Pesto is special. So are dips. And so is roasted garlic. Let’s do it, I said (to myself, in my head). Let’s blend that broccoli with soft, sweet roasted garlic cloves, salty Parmesan, fresh basil and some spicy chilli flakes and find many glorious uses for this combination.

So I did. And it was (glorious).

I spread my broccoli pesto on toast with an extra sprinkling of Parmesan. I had it on some crackers with a slice of tomato and little hot sauce. And I put it on spiralini pasta with peas, wilted spinach, and crispy pieces of chorizo – which was possibly the most excellent use to date.

I still have yet to try it on a baked potato, on a grilled cheese sandwich, or as a topping for some grilled fish – but I’m looking forward to all those things!

Broccoli & Roasted Garlic Pesto/Spread
– 1 1/2 cups of broccoli, steamed
– 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
– 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
– 6-8 roasted garlic cloves (outer husks removed)
– pinch of red chili flakes
– salt & pepper

To steam broccoli: place in vegetable steamer over boiling water and cook covered for 4-5 minutes, until soft but still bright green.

To roast garlic: Take an entire head of garlic and cut off the base (the woody end). Place on an oiled  piece of aluminum foil (big enough to wrap the garlic in) and stand the bulb upright on its newly trimmed bottom. Loosely wrap the bulb in foil and place on the oven rack.  Bake for 35-40 minutes in a 200 C/400 F oven until your garlic cloves take on a caramelized color. Squeeze garlic out of their dry husks to use.

For pesto: Place all the ingredients in the food processor and puree. If it’s too thick, add a little more olive oil. I kept mine on the thicker side, so it was more of a spread to start out with.

This should keep in the fridge for 3-4 days. Or you can freeze it in small portions and thaw as needed.

Green Veg-Packed Pasta with Chorizo
I didn’t include amounts here, as I think you can judge how much of each ingredient you’d like. I will say that I used about a cup of  fresh spinach for each serving. I also ended up topping my pasta with only a tablespoon or tablespoon and a half of the diced chorizo. Because it’s so flavorful, I don’t need very much – but that’s just me. 
What you need:
– Pasta (I used a spiral kind, because I thought it would catch the flavors more)
– Peas, cooked
– Spinach
– Broccoli Pesto
– Chorizo sausage, diced into small pieces
– Parmesan, grated, to garnish

Cook pasta in salted boiling water for about 8 minutes, until al dente.

While pasta is cooking, brown the chorizo in a medium pan over a medium-high heat (no need to oil the pan, the chorizo has enough fat going on). Once browned (about 5 minutes) remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan add a little olive oil and wilt the spinach down over a medium heat (about 1 minute). Remove from heat and add broccoli pesto and peas.

When the pasta is cooked, drain, reserving some of the pasta water. Toss pasta in the pan with the pesto, spinach and peas – adding a little pasta water to thin the pesto out and help the sauce stick to the pasta. Add the water a tablespoon at a time, to prevent from making it too watery.

Serve in bowls with diced chorizo and grated Parmesan on top.

Two Ways With Red Cabbage


I’ll admit, cabbage is not the most exciting of subjects. But I find red cabbage, with its vibrant purple color and crunch, fun to use. (Maybe my child-like love of bright colors is playing too big a roll in creating meals, but whatever. Eating the rainbow is good for you.)

I received half of a head of red cabbage last week in my veg delivery so I thought I would try out a couple of different recipes to share with you. Both were satisfying in different ways. The first way is fresh, zingy and light with lime juice and crunchy peanuts and the second is a warm savory-spicy affair.

You excited yet? Let’s not dawdle then. I present to you, red cabbage: two ways.

Red Cabbage, Apple, Lime and Peanut Slaw (serves 4 as a side)
Adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Lime and Peanut Coleslaw Recipe

1/4 of a large red cabbage, very thinly chopped or shredded
1 pink lady apple cut into matchsticks
2 handfuls of coriander chopped
1 jalapeno finely chopped

1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts

For dressing:
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt, to taste

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a bowl. Pour dressing ingredients over the mixture and toss well to combine. Top with chopped roasted peanuts to serve.

Just-Wilted Red Cabbage with Chorizo and Onion (serves 2)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 small brown onion, diced
1/4 cup diced chorizo (I used cured chorizo because we had it in the fridge.)
1/4 of a red cabbage, shredded
1 teaspoon smokey paprika
salt&pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a pan. Cook chopped onion on a medium-high heat for about 3 to 4 minutes until it’s beginning to brown. Add chorizo and paprika and continue to cook for about 4 more minutes. (If you’re using fresh chorizo, cook a minute or two more until browned and crispy.)

Add shredded cabbage and bring the heat down to low. (You can add a tablespoon of water or two if the pan looks a little dry.) Cook covered for 5 to 6 minutes until cabbage has begun to wilt and soften but still retains a little crunch. Cook for 2 more minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally.  Serve warm or at room temperature with a little fresh parsley or basil.

This one is even better if it sits in the fridge overnight – it softens and takes on more of the rich and spicy chorizo flavor.

The best thing I ate this weekend

…was a grilled garlic prawn sandwich from the Mojo Picón Spanish food stand at EQ Markets in Moore Park. Cooked to order on a hot grill with a cumin-laced spice blend and topped with fresh parsley, these generous-sized sangers are heaven betwixt a fresh bread roll. The intoxicating scent of chorizo spices wafting across the market is enough to lure you to their stand. Once you’ve peered over the counter at the grill, you’re done for. Order a combo sandwich with both the chorizo and the prawns. Because life’s too short to choose.
Mojo Picón brand condiments are readily available right next to the much-needed napkins. The salsa verde, a green parsley and coriander sauce, refreshingly compliments the spiced meat and seafood and there is more of the cumin and paprika sauce too, if needed. My garlic prawn sandwich was huge, delicious and I ate the entire thing. All that was missing was a cold Spanish beer.
Mojo Picón can be found at the Sydney EQ Markets on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. And at the Chatswood Mall on Thursday and Friday. They also sell a range of cooking products including their special sauces. If you can’t get there, they have some recipes and sauces available on their website.

Prediction: I will be back again and again.

this week in vegivore meals: corn and potato soup, zucchini patties

While I will openly admit to being a breadophile, I tend to hesitate when aligning myself with more mainstream categories of eating habits. For about 3 years I was “technically” a pescetarian (someone who does not eat meat, but eats fish) – which some people still consider a vegetarian (I do not, for the record). I always found myself qualifying my status as one who abstained from eating land-roaming animals by responding with a,”but I eat fish,” to anyone who would call me a vegetarian outright. I felt like I was lying about vegetarianism if I left that part out, but for the sake of brevity it worked for communicating that I would prefer not to be served chicken, please.

This is not something I think about anymore because these days I eat meat, (which I started to do again after 3 years because I got a very persistent craving for a medium rare steak) but my awkwardness around such labels persists. Slightly reluctantly, I stamp the brand of vegivore on myself because I like what it stands for, even if I don’t like the labeling itself.

As anyone who has spent a day eating with me could tell you, I love vegetables. I love making fresh salads, stir fries, curries, soups, burgers – really anything I can pack a combination of fresh veggies into, I am a fan of eating and cooking. While I enjoy learning about nutrition and do take my caloric intake and overall health into account when preparing meals for myself, I choose vegetables for their taste first and the good feeling I get from eating them (not the self-righteous kind of good either, the physically energized kind of good feeling). Plus, I like a bright colour combination.

For me, vegetables are the stars of most of my meals. I love incorporating meat (and fish too, of course) into my meals, but most of my meals throughout the week tend to be vegetarian, vegetable-based meals. I would rather save a good piece of beef or pork for when I am really craving it. Or else I will use very small doses of extra-tasty meat, like chorizo or prosciutto, to bring rich flavours to vegetable side dishes and salads.

This is my 3rd week of receiving fruit and vegetable delivery from Box Fresh and I feel as though it has brought my vegivore-ism (still awkward) to a new level. I am always excited to discover the contents of my delivery and comb through magazines, cookbooks and websites for meal ideas incorporating my rotating selection of produce.

This week I have made a few dishes that really showcased the fresh, seasonal ingredients I had.

Roasted Corn and Potato Soup (makes 4 servings)
– olive oil
– 1 onion, chopped
– 1 clove of garlic, minced
– 1 celery rib, chopped
– 3 sprigs of thyme, picked
– a dash of crushed red pepper (optional)
– salt & pepper
– 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
– 4 or 5 small chat potatoes, diced
– 3 ears of corn, roasted

1. Preheat oven to 200C. Place corn in their husks on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool until they are easy to handle. Peal back the husks and remove the kernels.
2. Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil inside a large pot until onions are translucent. Add celery, thyme, salt&pepper and crushed red pepper.
3. Add stock and bring to a boil, then add potatoes and cook for about 5-10 minutes until the potatoes are nearly cooked.
4. Add roasted corn kernels and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
5. Allowing the soup to cool for a few minutes first, put 2/3 of the soup through the food processor. You will have to do this in batches if your food processor is on the small side like mine is. Add puree to the remaining soup and bring back up to a simmer.
6. Garnish with a little grated aged cheddar and ideally, avocado (mine wasn’t ripe yet).

Zucchini Patties
(makes 4 servings)
This recipe is adapted from The Greengrocer by Leanne Kitchen. Where she called for parsley and mint, I used basil. I also pre-cooked my onions which she does not do, but I prefer the sweeter, sautéed onion.
– 3 medium zucchini, grated
– 1 small onion, chopped
– 3 tbsp self-raising flour
– 4 tbsp of Parmesan cheese
– 1 tbsp chopped mint
– 2 tsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
(I used 3 tbsp of chopped fresh basil instead of the above two herbs)
– a pinch of nutmeg
– 3 tbsp dry breadcrumbs
– 1 egg
– salt&pepper
– olive oil

1. Sauté onions until they are just beginning to turn golden. Put the onion and grated zucchini in a paper towel or clean dish towel and wring out to remove all the juices.
2. Place this mixture and all other ingredients into a large bowl and mix with your hands to a stiff batter.
3. Heat olive oil in a medium sized pan. Place 2-3 tbsp of batter in the pan and press flat. Fry over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until browned all over.

Ms. Kitchen served these with a yoghurt sauce, but I decided I was more in the mood for a dollop of fresh ricotta, cherry tomatoes and a couple of crispy pan-fried pieces of of chorizo instead.

Below is a quick veggie fry up. I started by sautéing onions and a few pieces of chorizo in paprika and garlic-infused olive oil and then I added cooked chickpeas, fresh spinach, cherry tomatoes and shredded carrot. I cooked covered over a medium heat for a few minutes until warm. It’s a quick and easy concoction that makes a nice lunch with a cup of soup or some crusty bread.

For more on vegivores, check out this New York Magazine article: Vegetables Are the New Meat