Eliza, a mother of 3 living in Litchfield County, had an inspirational moment one day while grocery shopping. Tired of the usual meatballs, burgers and Bolognese rotation, she has begun a quest to cook authentic ethnic meals from a different region each week. Last week was India, this week Spain and next week will be Israel.
With several family birthdays requiring special favorite dishes, I was only able to cook two Spanish meals this week but both were delicious. Similar to all other Mediterranean countries, the Spanish cuisine has two basic elements- olive oil and garlic.
They also use many legumes relying most on the Spanish cocidos, or chickpea which the Carthaginians brought to Spain and which give flavor to many southern Spanish dishes. Despite some grumbling at the combo of my lecturing and forcing in new foods, this has been a good geography and history exploration especially now that we have the globe in the kitchen to follow the culinary journey.
I used two websites for recipes including a delectable ‘Garlicky Chicken Thighs in Red Pepper Sauce’ from the Fine Cooking website. After roasting peppers in the oven and then brown bagging them to steam off their blackened skin, they are chopped and added to the chicken to simmer.
Another website which offered a variety of Spanish dishes also included descriptions of unique regional foods such as the jambon Iberico, Iberian acorn ham, with hogs fed on an acorn diet and only permitted to roam in specific regions. From this site, I made a simple vegetarian dish by sautéing garlic and onions in one pan and zucchini in another (both cooked about 15 minutes in Spanish olive oil.) The zucchini was then added to the onions, seasoned with salt, pepper and oregano and then 4 eggs were cracked over the pan and mixed in until the whites set. I think the Spanish wisely realize that eggs are a great cover for vegetables because many dishes include them. And despite barely tolerating squash of any sort, my kids love their eggs and ate this dish happily.
Written by Eliza Paolucci