Monthly Archives: April 2015

Lasagna Española

Lasagna Española
Spanish version of tuna lasagna is very tasty!

We wanted to make a tuna lasagna, but with a Spanish twist. This brought us an idea for combining lasagna and Andalucian tapas dish called caballa con pimientos asados – mackerel with roasted peppers. It can be found most of the tapas bars. There’s nothing special to it: in a tapas plate there are a few pieces of mackerel and a few pieces of roasted paprika. Most often straight from a can with lots of olive oil and a piece of white bread. And it’s good!

These are the main ingredients for the sauce, but of course we added some chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and handful of olives and a handful of capers to raise the bar a bit. It it turned out to be fantastic dish!

As you may have noticed we prefer having fresh pasta, but you can use regular lasagne sheets as well. In that case add some extra tomato juice from a can in order to make to sauce very moist. The lasagne sheets absorb the liquid when cooked.

Ingredients for Lasagne Española for 4 Servings

  • 1 onion – cebolla
  • 4 cloves of garlic – dientes de ajo
  • a splash of olive oil – aceite oliva
  • 1 can (400 g, 14 oz) of canned tomatoes – tomates enteros pelados
  • 1 small can (170 g, 6 oz) of tomato paste – tomate doble concentrado
  • 1 can (400 g, 14 oz) of roasted peppers – pimientos asados
  • a handful of capers – alcaparras
  • a handful of olives – aceitunas
  • 1 can (400 g, 14 oz) of mackerel (or tuna) – caballa
  • sea salt – sal marina
  • ground black pepper – pimienta negra
  • 8 lasagne sheets – hoja de lasaña
  • grated parmesan cheese – queso parmesano

Mince onion and garlic. Sautée in a large sauce pan in olive oil and when soft, add chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, roasted peppers, capers and olives. Let the sauce simmer for about 15 minutes and then add mackerels. Season with salt and pepper to taste and let the sauce rest while preparing the lasagna sheets.

If you are using other than fresh lasagna sheets, add some tomato juice or just plain water to keep the mixture moist. However, if you are using fresh pasta, cook the sheets for 2 minutes in salted water.

Preheat the oven to 170 ºC (350 ºF). Swipe an oven dish with olive oil to prevent lasagna from sticking into the dish. Spread the first layer of sauce on the bottom, place pasta sheets on top and repeat until all the sauce is used. Cover the lasagna with clean layer of lasagna sheets and grate some parmesan cheese on top.

Cook in the oven for 45 minutes and let it rest for 30 minutes before serving.

¡Buen provecho!

Red Pesto Tagliatelle Pasta

Red pesto tagliatelle with artichoke and greens
Red pesto tagliatelle with artichokes, olives and greens is easy to do from scratch and so tasty you want to make it again and again!

In our family there are some dishes that we cook regularly 2-3 times a month. This is one of them. Actually we didn’t even realize it was a vegetarian dish until writing this blog. The pasta and the sauce are so tasty that you won’t pay any attention if it’s a vegetarian dish or not.

We prefer cooking everything from scratch, but you’ll get a good tasting dish by using ready-made red pesto and tagliatelle, too.

 

Ingredients for Red Pesto for 4 Servings

  • 1/2 can (140 g, 5 oz. incl. the oil) sun dried tomatoes in olive oil – tomates secos en aceite oliva
  • 2 tablespoons of peanuts or pine nuts – piñónes
  • a handful of fresh basil – albahaca
  • 2 cloves of garlic – dientes de ajo
  • 1/2 dl (1/4 cups) of olive oil – aceite oliva
  • a pinch of sea salt – sal marina
  • a pinch of freshly ground black pepper – pimienta negra

Measure tomatoes, nuts, garlic and half of the olive oil into a cup. You can pour some of the olive oil from the tomatoes in, too. Blend the mixture smooth. If the pesto is too thick, add a bit of olive oil and mix some more.

When the structure is pesto-like, chop the basil fine with a knife and combine with the pesto. Don’t use stick blender to mince basil, because it (like many fresh herbs) become bitter if minced too much. Season with salt and pepper to taste and let it rest while making tagliatelle and the sauce. If you are using salted peanuts check the taste before adding salt. It may not need any.

 

Ingredients for Fresh Pasta for 4 Servings

  • 400 g (14 oz) of all purpose flour – harina de trigo
  • 4 eggs – huevos
  • a splash of extra virgin olive oil – aceite olive virgen extra

Making fresh pasta is easy. All you need are the three ingredients above. As you can see, the amounts match with the number of persons, too! It goes as follows:

  • 100 g (3,5 oz) of flour per person
  • 1 egg per person
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil per person

Actually the amount of olive oil depend on the eggs. If they are huge, go easy with the oil. And there’s no permanent damage even if you the mixture becomes too moist, because you can always add some flour to fix the dough. And it goes the other way too: if the dough is too dry, add another splash of oil. Easy.

Measure all ingredients in the kitchen robot bowl and let the robot run on low for 5 minutes. When the dough looks like in the 3rd picture below, stop the robot and go into manual mode. You need to kneed the dough for a couple of minutes to integrate the loose bits from the bottom of the bowl with the dough. When the dough feels moist, yet doesn’t stick to your hands, the structure is right! As mentioned before, add flour or oil, if the structure is not right. But usually with these measurements and medium size eggs you will reach success without hassle.

Cover the dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge while finishing rest of the pasta.

Hint: make a double batch while you’re at it. The dough stays fine in the fridge up to 2 weeks so next time you don’t need to make the dough when you’re making fresh pasta! (That’s the reason why the dough looks a bit big in our pictures, we made a double batch, like we always do).

 

Ingredients for Red Pesto Tagliatelle Pasta

  • 200 g (7 oz) of artichoke hearts – corazones de alcachofa
  • 2 handfuls of spinach (or spinach and rucola mixture) – espinaca
  • 1 dl (1/2 cup) of olives – aceitunas
  • a pinch of sea salt – sal marina
  • a pinch of freshly ground black pepper – pimienta negra
  • parmesan cheese – queso parmesano
  • a pinch of flour – harina de trigo

…and of course:

  • red pesto
  • fresh tagliatelle pasta

Get the pasta boiling water ready by pouring 2 litres of water into a sauce pan. Season the water with a pinch of salt and pour in some olive oil. It prevents the tagliatelle from sticking together and also forms a layer on top of the pasta strips so they don’t begin to absorb the sauce in when mixed.

If the artichoke hearts are big, cut them in half. You can do the same for olives, if you prefer, but it’s not a must. Wash and dry the spinach.

Begin preparing pasta sheets. Divide the pasta dough into four balls and press them flat on floured surface and make sure the surface of the dough is covered with flour, too. Start from thickness setting #0 and begin rolling the pasta sheets. In our Marcato pasta machine we go all the way to setting #6 and then place the pasta sheets on a clean kitchen towel to rest. You can cut the pasta sheets in half in order to make the pasta easier to eat when in tagliatelle strips.

When the pasta water boils, you can begin to prepare the pasta sauce. Let the water boil, it won’t go anywhere.

Pour the pesto into a large sauce pan and add olives and artichokes, too. On medium heat warm the mixture and when it reaches comfortable eating temperature, add the greens.

At the same make the tagliatelle with the pasta machine and cook it. Stir the tagliatelle strips in the water right after pouring them in, because otherwise they might stick together. The pasta is cooked in 3-4 minutes.

Combine cooked pasta with the sauce and mix well. Season with salt and papper. Serve with generous amount of parmesan cheese and be amazed that actually is a vegetarian dish!

¡Buen provecho!

Spanish Salt Baked Fish

Whole fish baked in salt crust
Whole fish baked in salt crust

A local Andalucian TV station showed Jamie Oliver’s trip to Andalucia and in the end of the show (39:30) he teaches how to make perfect salt baked whole fish. The fish he used is golden perch and it’s very typical Andalucian cooking style for this particular fish, but you can also use sea bass, if you will. We have done this dish several times and there are some little differences in our style to Jamie’s cooking. But the basic idea is the same, of course, since it’s a local cooking method.

When done with cooking Jamie says: “This is the best fish I’ve ever tasted”. We can confirm this. This is the perfect method of cooking a white fish. It stays moist and the fish meat sucks a bit of that sea salt into it making it perfect in taste. You can add a small amount of herb aroma by stuffing the fishes with the herbs of your choice. We prefer stuffing them with parsley and salvia. Salvia is quite strong in taste, but suits perfectly with white fish. You can even fry some crispy salvia leaves as chips in butter and crack them on top of the fish. It works!

Ingredients for Spanish Aioli for 4 Servings

  • 1-2 cloves of garlic – dientes de ajo
  • 1 egg yolk – yema
  • juice of half of lemon – zemo de medio de limón
  • 1 pinch of sea salt – sal marina
  • 2 dl (1 cup) of olive oil – aceite oliva

Crush the garlics in a mortel, add a pinch of salt and squeeze in the lemon juice. Add the egg yolk and begin mixing while adding a the oil slowly as a strand. The structure in the end should resemble mayonnaise. Check the taste and add salt, if needed. Place in the fridge to wait for the potatoes and fishes to be ready.

Ingredients for Oven Baked Potatoes for 4 Servings

  • 6 medium size potatoes – patatas
  • leek and/or onion and/or bell paprika – puerro y/o cebolla y/o pimiento
  • 1 whole garlic – ajo
  • a can of green olives – aceitunas
  • a splash of olive oil – aceite oliva
  • a pinch of sea salt – sal marina
  • a pinch of freshly ground black pepper – pimienta negra

Preheat the oven to 175 ºC (350 ºF).

Slice the potatoes into 5 cm (1/4″) slices lengthwise. Leave the skin on! Place then on an oven tray.

If you have some onions, leek or paprika, you can add them too, but it’s not necessary.

Cut the garlic in half. Yes, the whole garlic, as in the pictures below. Splash some olive oil on top of all ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Toss them around so that everything is coated with olive oil.

Cook in 175 ºC (350 ºF) for 25 minutes. After placing the fish into the oven add olives and raise the temperature to 200 ºC (400 ºF) for another 25 minutes.

Ingredients for Salt Baked Fish for 4 Servings

  • 2 whole gutted perches or sea basses (total of ~1,2 kg, 2.5 lbs.) – doradas o lubinas
  • 2 kg (4.5 lbs) of coarse salt – sal grueasa
  • a few sprigs of parsley – ramitas de perjil
  • a few sprigs of salvia – ramitas de salvia

Mix about 2 dl (1 cup) of water with the salt in a bowl. Mix well so that the structure resembles wet snow. Make a layer of salt using half of the salt on an oven tray.

Stuff the fishes with parsley and salvia and place them on top of the sea bed. Cover the fishes with rest of the salt. Put the tray in the oven and cook for 25 minutes in 200 ºC (400 ºF).

When done, use a scoop or large spoon to crack the salt surface and remove the skin from one side of the fishes. Scoop the meat (without bones) to the plates and remove spine when done so you can access the other side of the fish.

¡Buen provecho!