Go Barca… a Catalan themed spaghetti

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Sometime back intrigued by a friend’s ‘Go Barca’ updates on facebook I asked him whether it had anything to do with his mother in law’s visit. Yes, this post is not about football.

Seems just like yesterday that we were in Barcelona and in Alejandra’s cooking class in Claudia & Pep’s ‘Espai Boisa’ that Barcelona Turisme had organised for us. One of the things that Alejandra had taught us in the class was a seafood tuna and cod salad in a Romesco sauce. The sauce was primarily ‘’add nuts (almonds, hazelnuts), tomato, garlic in a mortar pestle…pound… put in a mixing bowl with olive oil and rock salt, take a hand blender and go ‘chuk chuk chuk’ “ (the Spanish phrase of choice when they run out of words).

I had picked up some meats and cheese and some pretty expensive organic olive oil on my last day in Barcelona. The priceless and very pricey Iberico jamon of course but also some choriz and salami and of course the butifara sausages. One cheese that I picked up was Manchego and the other some goat cheese. It’s not really easy to buy cheese or quesa as they call it in Barcelona or Spain. Your questions on the origin of the cheese could be met by answers such as ‘mooo’ (cow) or ‘byaaa’ (goat). Chances are that the cheese will be really good though.

The interesting thing about the ‘local’ food in Barcelona is that it was not just about tapas. It also includes a lot of pasta, foie gras, pesto dressings, quiches and waffles from across Italy, France, Portugal and even Belgium and. A quick recap of European history will tell you that a number of these nations kept invading each other and kept getting invaded in turn in the past. Therefore food influences, specially Italian and French, have spread everywhere in the region.

The three unrelated paragraphs above came together on our dinner plate last night when I made a spaghetti with a sort of Romesco sauce with the meats and cheese that I brought back from Barcelona and some veggies that I shopped at Lalu’s at Pali Market.

I was quite happy with the results then I am the biggest fan of my cooking. If this helps, K, who is not fond of tomato based, or non creamy pastas or spaghetti, licked her plate clean. And believe me, if a dish doesn’t work for her she makes it pretty clear.

So here’s the recipe for 2:

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Prep:

  • Boil 100 g spaghetti, drain water and set aside. You could even keep it in the fridge for a day or so and take it out while cooking. Don’t bother adding oil or salt while boiling. It’s not required

Romesco sauce:

Ingredients: 2 tomatoes, quartered, 6-8 peeled garlic cloves, a handful of chopped parsley, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 2,3 tablespoons of almonds or walnuts or both, 1 teaspoon rock salt, 1/2 a coffee mug of extra virgin olive oil

  • Crush garlic, black pepper & chopped parsley together. Add tomato to this and crush with mortar and pestle. Transfer contents to a mixing bowl (if using a hand blender) or a food processor…add the olive oil and salt and blend. You will get a creamish coloured sauce and not a red one. Don’t pound the walnuts etc too much because you want it adding to the texture. Take out the tomato skins and discard

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Cook

Ingredients: Boiled spaghetti, Romesco sauce, 100 g cold cuts (I used choriz and salami) chopped, 3 tablespoons of extra virgin oil, red chilli pepper, 3,4 chopped portabella mushrooms, 7,8 thin shards (slices) of hard salt y cheese like manchego or parmesan

  • Heat EVOO on a pan. Keep it on a low flame
  • Add the red chilli peppers and mushroom to the pan once the oil warms and stir for a minute
  • Add the meat and gently stir for a minute or so. The oil will take in the flavours of the meat, mushroom and chillies
  • Add the Romesco sauce and stir gently for about 2 minutes
  • Add in the spaghetti and gently spread the sauce across the pasta.
  • Let the spaghetti rest in the sauce for about 2,3 minutes. Occasionally shake the contents for evenness
  • Add the shards of cheese and switch off the burner
  • Put the spaghetti  in on to plates and top with a slight sprinkling of rock salt and some extra virgin olive oil

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The result is a very light and satisfying pasta where the you could sense the various flavours and textures of meat, mushrooms, walnuts, fresh tomato, garlic, olive oil, parsley, cheese and above all the piquant chillies individually and then in harmony

The sort of dish that would make you say, ‘spaghetti is a many splendored thing’.

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