However, to make it up to all of you, today I'm going to share TWO of my very favorite Spanish recipes *and* I'm giving away a bottle of a delicious olive oil for one of my lucky readers! More on that in a minute, but first, let's habla.
As I've mentioned in the past, I spent three wonderful months living in Barcelona during my senior year in college. This is where I met my dear friend Kasey, who I've mentioned several times before on the blog. We were randomly selected to live together in a host home, and our "mom" for 12 weeks was a fantastic lady by the name of Dolores Berga. Whenever I think of Dolores, I smile. She was as warm and welcoming as you could ever hope a host mom to be when you're living in a foreign country. I fondly remember our dinners with Dolores, practicing our Spanish (because she did not speak any English), and sampling some of her home cooking.
Dolores was by no means a gourmet chef. She definitely had some interesting offerings at times (I remember one night her trying to serve us spaghetti noodles with mayonnaise. No joke). However, she had a few signature dishes that we adored. We loved her tortilla espanola, which is similar to a frittata. But probably our most favorite Dolores Berga special was her potaje. The best way I can describe potaje is equating it to a Spanish version of stew. It's for this reason you can't really find a standard recipe for potaje if you search it on the internet. Sort of like how everyone has their own way of making stew or chili here in the States.
Dolores' version was extremely simple, using just a handful of ingredients and veggies. Her "secret ingredient," so to speak, was pine nuts and she started by sautéing them in a little olive oil. Her recipes were all in her head, so as she was dictating, I wrote down things like "3 handfuls of pine nuts." To help with measuring purposes, I actually grabbed 3 handfuls and measured it out. I estimate this to be around a third of a cup. :)
She then added about a tablespoon of paprika. For authenticity, I would recommend a Spanish paprika if you have it available. I used a smoked paprika, and loved the complex, woodsy flavor it added. After that, you toss in the onions and garlic, and then the zucchini and potatoes and a little water or broth and cook it all up. Season with salt and let it sit overnight in the fridge.
Like many soups and chilis, potaje is best when made one day in advance. Or as Dolores said "mucho mas sabroso." No, it's not the most photogenic dish I've ever shared on the blog, but it sure is tasty!
Dolores would often serve dinner with a simply prepared Pan con Tomate. Now, even if you know minimal Spanish, you probably figured out this means "bread with tomato." Pan con Tomate is very typical in Catalonia, the area where Barcelona is located. It's so incredibly simple, yet so delicious at the same time. All you do is toast up some bread, rub it with the cut side of a tomato, sprinkle with salt and drizzle with a little olive oil. The trick, or "truco" as Dolores told us, is to make it immediately before serving.
Now, you can totally just use normal extra virgin olive oil. However, I was recently treated to some of this habanero-infused olive oil from Plato's. If you like spice, then you will absolutely LOVE this olive oil. I wasn't quite sure what to expect or how strong the heat would be, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out it has some serious kick. I first tasted it with some plain bread, and initially you just taste olive oil, but then the habanero kicks in on the finish. I'm excited to try it out on fish and chicken.
I would love to give away a bottle of this to one of my lucky readers. To enter, please head over to my Facebook page, hit "like" and then also leave a comment here on the blog on THIS post below once you have, while telling me your favorite trip you've ever taken. (Don't worry, the answer won't have any bearing on your chances to win, and if you're already a Facebook fan, just leave a comment). I'll randomly pick a winner on Friday, so please have your entries in by midnight PST on Thursday. Good luck and in the meantime I hope you enjoy some tasty Spanish cuisine!
Potaje & Pan con Tomate
Keywords: soup/stew bread Spanish
Ingredients (6 large bowls)
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon Spanish or smoked paprika
- 2 medium red onions, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1.5 pounds zucchini, chopped (2-3 medium zucchini)
- 1.5 pounds potatoes, peeled & chopped (2 large potatoes)
- 1 cup broth or water
- salt, to taste
- extra virgin olive oil
InstructionsFor the Potaje
- One day before you plan to eat the potaje, heat olive oil over medium heat and add pine nuts. Cook until lightly browned, stirring often. Add paprika and stir.
- Add onion and garlic and saute until they start to soften. Add zucchini and potatoes and cook a few minutes longer. Add broth or water, cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook until vegetables are cooked through, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt (you will need more than you think). Cool and store in refrigerator overnight and reheat on stove when you are ready to eat.
For the Pan con Tomate
- Thickly slice bread and toast in the broiler or toaster oven. Cut a tomato in half and rub over the toasted bread. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil. Serve immediately.
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