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.

Roasted Vegetable Ratatouille with Rosemary Croutons

Hmm, how can I explain my relationship with my baking trays without sounding like a crazy person?

I just feel like…they’re my best friends of the kitchen.

You know, I see them almost every day and they’re always there to help me with anything I need. Making chocolate bark? Line with baking paper and smooth melted chocolate over one. Cookies? Obviously, they’re the one for the job. Granola, salt and vinegar potatoes, roasting veggies…a baking tray is my partner in crime.

I kind of want to sing the Golden Girls theme song now…but I won’t. That would be legit crazy.

Roasted vegetable ratatouille is a slightly less saucy version of my stove-top favorite but with a way simpler approach. All you need to do is oil up your veg and bake it on our favorite BTs. I made some rosemary croutons to take the whole thing into roasted summer vegetable panzanella territory.

Serve it up on its own or as a side.

Roasted Vegetable Ratatouille with Rosemary Croutons
Ratatouille recipe adapted from Fine Cooking
(serves 4 as a side)

– 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1 inch/2.5 cm cubes
– 1 large red pepper, cut into 1 inch/2.5 cm pieces
– 1-2 medium zucchini, cut into half moons 1/2 inch/1 cm thick
– 1 medium red onion cut into large chunks
– 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
– 8 cherry tomatoes cut in half
– 6-8 cloves of garlic still in their skins
– 4 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
– salt

Preheat oven to 400 F/205 C

Combine eggplant, red pepper, zucchini, onion and rosemary together in a large bowl. Toss with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, marking sure everything is coated well. Spread the vegetables out on a large baking tray and sprinkle with salt.

On another baking tray, spread out tomatoes and cloves of garlic tossed with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt.

Place baking trays on separate oven racks.

Cook the tomatoes for 25-30 minutes rotating and stirring once halfway. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Let the other vegetables cook for about 40-45 minutes (stirring and rotating the baking tray once or twice.) Let these vegetables cool for about 5 minutes.

Remove garlic cloves from their casings and chop them into smaller pieces.

Combine all the vegetables, tomatoes and garlic in a big bowl and mix well to distribute the garlic. Top with croutons to serve. (Can be served warm, at room temperature or cold.)

Rosemary Croutons
– 1 cup of 1 inch/2.5 cm cubes of stale bread (I used sourdough baguette)
– 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
– 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

Toss bread with 1 tablespoon olive oil and rosemary. Heat remaining olive oil in a large pan over a medium high heat. Add the bread and cook, turning the pieces of bread over a couple of times, until all sides are golden. About 5 minutes.

Two Tomato Roma Salad with Creamy Pesto Dressing

This salad is inspired by a sandwich from one of my favorite cafes near my hometown on Long Island.

Tiger Lilly Cafe was and is something pretty foreign to suburban Long Island – it combines of a full vegetarian menu with non-vegetarian options to create a fresh produce-focused selection of sandwiches, salads and other lunch fare.

Tiger Lilly has a terrifically funky vibe, with mis-matched used furniture and local artists’ work adorning the brightly painted walls. The cafe has the feel of both California and the East Village – with good coffee and wheat grass shots readily available. Again, unusual to Long Island, but completely welcome.

I haven’t been there in a few years, but I have found myself thinking about it a lot lately. I seem to manifest my homesickness in the form of cravings for dishes, sauces and sugar-free pudding products. Luckily, I like a challenge in the kitchen.

One of my favorite sandwiches from Tiger Lilly is called the Roma, it’s made on a light french bread roll with fresh mozzarella, sliced tomato, mixed greens, and basil pesto mayo. Very simple, but the pesto mayo really brings a zing that ties it all together.

I’ve never been a mayo person, but can often be persuaded when it’s mixed with something fancy like ‘herbs’! or ‘garlic’! And pesto, well, pesto gets me nearly every time.

I decided to give our pesto mayo a makeover. I used Greek yogurt in the place of mayo and thinned out the mixture with some olive oil and a little lemon juice to create a creamy pesto salad dressing. (If you want to use this as a sandwich spread, you can probably reduce or omit the amounts of olive oil and lemon juice, depending on the consistency you would like.)

The result is a salad reminiscent of a Roma, without the uncomfortable presence of mayo. Hooray!

Creamy Pesto Dressing:
– 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
– 2 tablespoons pre-made basil pesto
– 1 tablespoon of olive oil
– 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
– 1 teaspoon water
– salt & pepper, to taste

Salad (Serves 2)
– 1 truss tomato, chopped
– 6 sun-dried tomatoes, cut into small pieces
– 2 big handfuls of arugula, or any desired green
– 2 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese

Assemble salad in a large bowl. Pour dressing on and toss vigorously to make sure all the arugula leaves are coated.

I would make this a meal with some white beans or some good-quality tinned tuna on top.

Prawn Saganaki

That just-showered post-beach feeling.
Listening to your favorite album on repeat.
A frosty glass of beer on a hot day.
Watching Marie Antoinette in bed while eating squares of dark chocolate.
Finishing a good book.
Coffee, just the right amount of milk and sugar.
Fresh herbs picked off of your own balcony.

You with me here?

I’m painting a picture of contentment.

My picture, anyway.

Perfectly toasted, garlicky slabs of sour dough slathered with a simple combination of fresh summer tomatoes, salty feta, and pink prawns.

Oh yes. I would put that in my sálon.*

I’m so glad prawn saganaki came into my life. It’s the perfect balance of fresh and warming flavors and it demands to be eaten with good bread.

And good bread is the key contentment. Always.

*Andre Leon Talley, I’m stealing your catch phrase. Count it.

Prawn Saganaki (serves 2)
Recipe adapted from Chef Greg Everett’s recipe at Box Fresh

– 1 tablespoon of olive oil
– 1 medium yellow onion, diced
– 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
– about 350 grams (3/4 lb.) of prawns, peeled and deveined
– 1/4 cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped
– pinch of red chili flakes
– 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
– salt & pepper
– 2-3 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled
– 1/4 cup combined fresh basil and parsley, roughly chopped
– good bread, sliced, toasted or grilled, and rubbed with a garlic clove, to serve

Heat oil in a medium-sized pan over a medium heat. Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add prawns, olives and chili flakes and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the prawns turn pink.

Add tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes until they just start to break down. Season with a pinch of salt and a grind of fresh pepper, to taste.

Reduce heat to low. Sprinkle with feta and cover the pan with a lid. Cook for 2 minutes until feta is melted.

Transfer to a serving dish and top with fresh herbs. Serve with garlic-rubbed toasts.

Notes:
This is meant to be made in a skillet of sorts, but I just used a pan with a heat-resistant handle. If you’re using a skillet, you can pop the entire thing into a hot oven for 2 minutes to melt the feta instead of covering over a low heat. 

Baked Fish with Tomatoes, Peppers & Roasted Garlic

Sometimes after Mr. F and I cook a nice seafood dinner we’ll have one small piece of fish left over. It’s not enough for another main for two, but it will make a special lunch…for one.

I am usually the lucky one who gets to reap the rewards of this humble little fillet. I make it a fancy lunch just for me.

Ok, it’s not that fancy (at all), but it tastes like a lot of time and effort went into it (it didn’t). This is the kind of lunch that makes me feel like I am treating myself right  (which I totally am).

A sweet combination of tomatoes, green peppers, onions, roasted garlic and a slosh of red wine make a light summer vegetable stew for my mild baked white fish to nestle in to.

My addition of the roasted garlic is a bit superfluous, but I love it too much not to tell you about it. If you’ve got the time to make it, do. If only for the satisfaction you get out of squeezing the fragrant, soft cloves out of their rough, dry skins.

My method for cooking both the garlic and the fish are very similar. Pretty easy stuff: olive oil, aluminum foil, bake.

Roasted Garlic (optional, but not optional for me):
– An entire head of garlic
– Olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 200 C/400 F

Cut off the base of the bulb of garlic (the woody end).

Oil a piece of aluminum foil (big enough to wrap the garlic in) and stand the bulb upright on it’s newly trimmed bottom. Loosely wrap the the bulb in foil and place on the oven rack.  Bake for 35-45 minutes until your garlic cloves take on a caramelized color.

Squeeze cloves out of skins to use.

This can be made as much as a day ahead.

Tomatoes & Peppers
– 1 medium onion, sliced into thin half-moons
– 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
– 2 medium tomatoes, diced
– 1/2 large green pepper, sliced thin in long strips
– 1/4 cup red wine
– 1/2 teaspoon of smokey paprika
– salt & pepper
– Olive oil

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over a medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until beginning to brown, about 4-5 minutes. (If at any point the pan becomes a little dry, add a tablespoon or two of water)

Add the peppers and cook another 3-4 minutes until beginning to soften.

Add tomatoes, paprika, salt and pepper. And cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.

Pour in red wine, and let it boil off and thicken until the vegetables are thick but still saucy. About 5 minutes.

Add about 5 or 6 roasted garlic cloves (squeezed out of their husks). Reduce to a simmer and cook a further 10 minutes covered.

Serve with baked fish.

Simple Baked Fish for One
– White fish fillet (I had flake fish)
– Olive oil
– Salt & Pepper

Pre-heat oven to 200 C/400 F

Lightly oil a piece of aluminum foil. Place the fish in the center and season with salt and pepper. Seal the aluminum foil around the fish, making sure it is completely enclosed, but leaving space between the closure and the fish. (This creates an air pocket for the heat and steam from the fish to circulate – which cooks the fish while keeping it moist.)

Bake for 15 minutes. Unwrap and pour off excess liquid. Your fish should be completely white and opaque in the middle. Serve on top of tomato-pepper mixture.