This week’s recipe comes from the gorgeous new Spanish cookbook Rustica, written by native Barcelonan Frank Comorra. His more than 100 recipes featured in the book come from all the varied corners of Espana. This is one of my favorites to date – perfect for a cool autumn evening (and of course feel free to substitute some of the vegetables below with more seasonal offerings).
Do you love the food of Spain and, if so, what in particular about it? Have you made a menestra before? Leave a comment and you’ll be eligible to win a copy we’ll be rewarding to one lucky person next week.
Menestra de Verduras
Seasonal vegetables with garlic, tomato, and jamón
A menestra is a braise of vegetables in a jamón-infused tomato sauce. In Spain, it is eaten as a first course, perhaps before some meat. Menestras are always a seasonal dish and are made with whatever vegetables are plentiful, so don’t be limited to the ones in the recipe. For some vegetables, the cooking times may seem quite long – don’t worry, they are correct. That’s simply the nature of some Spanish cooking. (I believe we have swung the other way and now actually undercook our vegetables!) The tang of the tomato sauce brings everything together, marrying the earthy flavor of the vegetables with the richness of the oil and jamón.
6 medias raciones
5 artichokes, halved and stems removed
1 large roasting potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 lb Brussels sprouts
2/3 lb baby carrots, peeled and trimmed
2/3 lb baby turnips, peeled, trimmed and halved
1/2 lb large green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
6 ripe tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons fine sea salt
1 1/2 oz (about 3 tablespoons) jamón fat, finely chopped
3 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley
Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
Crusty bread, to serve
Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook the vegetables separately, beginning with the artichokes for 15 minutes, then the potato, Brussels sprouts, carrots and turnips for 10 minutes each, and 5 minutes for the beans. Remove the vegetables each time with a slotted spoon, drain well and spread out on a baking sheet to cool.
Meanwhile, place the tomatoes, garlic cloves and 1 teaspoon of the sea salt in a food processor and blend until roughly pureed.
Place the chopped jamón fat and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a small saucepan and cook over low heat for 15 minutes, or until the fat has rendered. Remove and discard any jamón pieces and reserve the fat. Place the drained vegetables, tomato puree and chopped jamón in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes. Pour in the remaining olive oil and cook for another 15 minutes, or until the flavor and texture of the vegetables are well integrated and the edges of the vegetables are just starting to break down.
Stir the melted jamón fat, remaining sea salt and the chopped parsley into the vegetables. Place on a warm serving dish, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve hot, with crusty bread.
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