Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Spanish Food Adventure

Around the world in 52 weeks
Week 1- Spain

For the first week's adventure we went across the ocean and started our tour of the Mediterranean countries with a little visit with the cuisine of Spain. On our last visit we enjoyed being introduced to the idea of tapas by my wonderful friend M who was blessed by being able to live there for a while. This time I decided to try something different than a tapas recipe (although those are popular here in the US). I knew wanted something light and summery too. Made me thrilled to find books like "Seasonal Spanish Food" by Jose Pizarro. What an inspiration. An excellent guide. Although I ended up having to adapt a couple recipes and also didn't make my meal exclusively from that cookbook- having found recipes elsewhere I liked too- I found it to be an excellent guide for figuring out what foods are summery there. They ended up being pretty seasonal here too. And very down-to-earth.

A Chilled Summer Zucchini Salad

Fresh zucchini was washed and sliced

Then coated in olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper.

Each side was grilled until lightly golden. 

The zucchini was arranged on the serving platter.

A dressing of olive oil, rice vinegar, salt, pepper, finely diced shallot, parsley, and hard-cooked egg were mixed and poured over the grilled zucchini slices.

The whole thing sat chilling in the refrigerator for an hour before serving. It was deliciously fresh and crisp in flavor. Will become a normal summertime recipe for us!

Zucchini Salad adapted from the recipe in Jose Pizarro's wonderful cookbook "Seasonal Spanish Food"
For the zucchini:
4 zucchini, cut into 1/2" thick strips
3 tbls olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce I used (this is slightly changed-we were out of some ingredients and substitutions were called for, see the original in Jose Pizarro's cookbook):
5 tbls olive oil
3 tbls rice vinegar 
salt and pepper to taste
1 small finely diced shallot (I used 1/2 of one because the ones at our store were huge)
small amount of fresh parsley 
1 hard cooked egg, chopped finely

Mix the slices with the olive oil and salt and pepper and let sit 5 minutes. Place the strips in the pan in a single layer. Grill for about 2 minutes, brush tops with oil and then flip. Cook for another minute or so. The zucchini should be lightly caramelized and golden, not burned. Arrange the slices on a plate.
Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Stirin the shallot, parsley, and chopped egg. Dot and smear this dressing over the zucchini slices, making sure none miss out. Let sit for 30 minutes or more to meld flavors.

 Tomato Salad
Slice some beautiful fresh tomatoes. A whole pound of them! Nice and firm tomatoes so they're not too soft & squishy.

Arrange them on your serving platter. I tried to get a little swirl action going here.

Freshly minced garlic and sliced red onion. These are sprinkled over the top of the tomatoes along with paprika (in a pinch chili powder can work), salt, and pepper, olive oil, and red wine vinegar.

After sitting to let the flavors meld it's ready to serve. Yum! Refreshing. My 2 year old couldn't get enough of this salad.

1 lb tomatoes
1-2 cloves minced garlic
finely sliced red onion to taste
1tsp paprika OR to substitute 1/4-1/2 tsp chili powder
4 tbls olive oil
2 tbls red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Slice the tomatoes and arrange the pieces artistically on a plate. Sprinkle the garlic and red onion over the tomatoes, followed by the paprika. Whisk together the oil and vinegar and pour this, the dressing, over the tomatoes. Finish off with some salt and pepper and a scattering of oregano leaves. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Atun Frito Con Miel (Honey Coated Tuna) 
A dip to coat the tuna steaks in, made from lightly beaten egg, cumin, parsley, and tumeric (as a substitute for saffron). 

Tuna steaks- 2 lbs of them- were coated on each side with local honey. Meanwhile I had some olive oil heating in a pan.

Honey coated tuna steaks were coated with flour-

-and cooked in 1/8" olive oil until golden on each side and cooked through to our satisfaction. 

2 lb tuna steaks
2 eggs
1/2 tsp cumin
small handful of fresh parsley
pinch of tumeric
olive oil
flour for dusting
Sprinkle tuna on both sides with salt and let stand 10 minutes. Beat together the eggs, cumin, parsley, and tumeric in a shallow dish. Pour oil into a large skillet 1/8" deep and heat over medium high heat. Spread each side of the tuna steaks lightly with honey. Dust the steaks with flour then coat on both sides with the egg mixture. Arrange steaks in a single layer and cook over medium high heat for 8-10 minutes turning once, until the coating is golden and the tuna cooked to taste. Remove to a serving platter.--- adapted (slightly changed) from One Pot Spanish by Penelope Casas


It made for a flavorful summery supper.  Plates were totally cleaned. Appetites were satisfied. It was filling although light and healthy. Leftover tuna steaks make for some really homemade tuna fish salad sandwiches for lunch next day.