Happy Easter everyone (a tad bit late)! It’s been a good week because it’s included 2 whole days of vacation! And now I’m on semi-vacation because the majority of my students have gone back to whence they came for the vacation. I’ve encountered a curious problem though with this free time. I have so many things I want to do and haven’t been able to do because of work that now I can’t decide where to focus my energy first. It’s making me almost less productive than when I am working full time… How can that be?
Ok, so I’m focused now and have decided that step one is to update my blog because on my two little days free I encountered some pretty enjoyable food. We went to Zamora on Friday with the intention of seeing Holy Week processions for which this city is famous, but also to visit with family members who I haven’t seen in ages. Unfortunately, it rained the whole day and no processions were seen, so instead we had ourselves a fantastic homemade meal and a marathon of card games accompanied by an assortment of liqueurs and firewater. Procession? What procession?
When we finally emerged, the rain had ceased and a little fresh air was needed. We took a ride into a nearby village where their underground bodegas are famous. Zamora is wine land, and these bodegas is where the wine was made and stored, deep in the ground where it’s cool and dry. Nowadays, most of them are restaurants that serve an assortment of meats grilled over an open flame, or parrilla, family style. There’s not even a menu – the waitress just comes up to the table and tells you which types of meat they have and do you want some wine.
Chorizo, pork ribs, and wine in a pitcher…
To finish it off, a little sweet flan (sadly, not homemade). By now, you’re ridiculously full and your only real option is to sip on a shot or two of firewater (it’s on the house after all) to help digest this meal fit for some type of burly lumberjack.
Only three of us were eating all of this, by the way…
But it is an interesting place to eat. It’s down in the depths of a cavern paved in stone. So you have to remember, while drinking your firewater, that you have to make it back up these stairs…
Back at home the following day (which commenced with a brutal headache from that pitcher of rural wine) two things happened. It was a holiday and supermarkets were closed and overconsumption led to a need for a lighter meal. Enter spaghetti with creamy red pepper sauce. I had a jar of roasted piquillo peppers in the pantry, so I tried out this recipe I had bookmarked a few months ago, but hadn’t gotten around to trying.
Slowly sauté a whole medium onion, sliced thinly, and a few cloves of garlic in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. As always, I leave the cloves whole so I can remove them later… When it’s soft and translucent, add a whole jar (250 grams/a cup or so) of roasted red peppers or roasted piquillo peppers (these are the smaller triangular ones). Drain them and give them a rough chop first. If you’re super ambitions, roast your own, but then this will cease to be the super fast and easy meal that it is…
Give them a couple minutes more, just to get heated through, then remove the garlic (if you want to) and put the mixture into a blender or tall cup (if you have an immersion blender) and puree until completely smooth.
The finished product. This is now ready to be poured over your favorite pasta. The original recipe called for feta, but since I don’t care for feta, I decided to omit it and see what it tasted like on its own before deciding whether or not to add some kind of cheese or cream. Turns out its delicious all on its own! This is a great substitute to tomato sauce. So much so, in fact, that the next day I used the leftovers as the base for a veggie pizza.
So there you have it! Another one of those fast and healthy meals – and this one is versatile too!
- one medium onion, finely sliced
- 2-3 cloves garlic (whole or roughly chopped)
- 250 g/1 to 1 1/2 cup roasted red peppers/piquillo peppers, roughly chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- a few tablespoons of parmesan cheese for topping
This makes enough sauce for 4 servings of spaghetti.