So after just a few lifetimes have passed I am returning to a brand new Kitchen, not only because I am different but so is my physical kitchen. In a new home, a new city… a new country. Since we last met in 2011, I had some pretty big life changes, my life really started to happen. We have the addition of our Daughter Sophia who is now 2, as every parent knows a whole new everything happens. Most recently we picked up and moved to Madrid temporarily (who knows?) which is another whole brand of new. This is a chance for me to pick back up where I left off, and try and grab some of the moments that make up this life to look back on one day.
Moving to Spain has proven to be both exciting and relaxing at the same time. The markets of Madrid are numerous and boasting lucious, ripe and local produce as well as a completely different set of ‘norms’ for fish, grains, legumes, and the various ways one can prepare Jamon (Ham).
If I were ever given the option to open a restaurant, I would choose to do so in Spain, very little work is involved in showcasing the amazing flavors, colors and textures so Tapas and Raciones come like the rest of the country… laid back and elegant without breaking a sweat.
The custom here consists of something in the morning for breakfast upon waking, then some fruit, possibly a croissant and coffee around 11am. The Spanish eat their big meal midday, at lunch which falls somewhere between 1:30-3pm. The folks here eat what we might see as a double portion for lunch, however this is to fuel them for the rest of the day, as they typically don’t eat again until much later, as early as 8:30 and as late as 10pm. Its just small plates of tapas here, a toast with some ham, stuffed olives, maybe a small antipasta or smoked salmon with capers. Its very different, but lovely.
Here at home we’ve been not only taking our cues with regards to simplicity, keeping things fresh and barely cooked as much as possible. With my penchant for all things staying as close to animal free as we can while balancing the salivating carnivores I live with, simple is best!
In one afternoon while taking a break from pounding the pavement exploring the city, I was able to whip us up a clean and vibrant pasta salad, whip up an experiment of mine with the amazing white cannellini beans into a lemony hummus, and steam us up a refreshing asian inspired miso dish that we could all share in its varied forms.
Given this is my first post in España, I will start with the pasta recipe as it includes their signature meat … Jamon. This time in the form of Bacon, which is sold by the block, and doesn’t shrink when you cook it. Naturally nitrate free here, easing the mind for my little baconater in training. Warning: Dish is so simple you may not recognize this as a recipe and keep scrolling to find one. Keep your time for the summer outdoors!!!!
I'm not going to lie, part of what makes it so easy to stay so simple here, and I mean simple barely turning on my stove and never my oven, is that the produce here is unlike any I've ever tasted. Its ripe and flavorful and doesn't seem to be picked too early for transit, probably because it doesn't have to travel far. Growing your own helps with this, something we probably will have to do in order to transition back home.
Its also super cheap, unbelievably.
So let's stick with short and simple and get back to our Mojitos please....
1) Make yourself your favorite colorful pasta, we use Farfalle or "Butterfly Noodles" around here.
2) Dice up a Deep Red large Bell Pepper or two, the more dark the hue of red the sweeter the pepper.
3) Loosely chop, or heck toss em in whole black olives.
4) Dice the onion of your choice, Red Onions add to color, but I like more mild in this one and use yellow.
5) Dice up some really ripe, vine ripe or roma tomatoes that fall off the vine when you shake them.
6) Squeeze half a lemon, Drizzle some amazing Olive Oil (its pretty abundant here as you can imagine)
7) Use your favorite spice (we found an amazing dried crushed pimento garlic mix here)
8) Freshly chopped parsley from the garden :)
Now.. everyone eats.... Next step add your choice of protein here we chopped from a block of butcher bacon, which is everywhere here including regular grocery shops and quick marts.
OR keep it Vegan and just toss in some of your favorite beans. I love these white cannellini beans that are found jarred here and am pretty much using them for everything!
Oh and you pretty much just toss in whatever you like. That's what we've done to keep our 'big meal' time simple and enjoy the summer. As you can see we are trying the best we can to settle into the relaxed nature of the Mediterranean.
Thats it! Grab your Mojito... or pour a glass of Red or finish your beer because Lunch is On!