Food + Drink

From the Chronicle Kitchen:

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.

!Buen provecho!

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.

Peter Perez
Associate Director, Marketing

Purchase: Rustica

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  • Laila October 27, 2011 at 3:27 am

    I love, love, love Spanish food! A good Spanish friend of mine taught me to make authentic Tortilla. The secret is boiling thinly sliced potato in oil on a low setting. Do this in a wok and make sure the potato doesn't colour at all, just slow boil them til they melt in your mouth and then drain. Whisk eggs with some salt and put in small frying pan with drained potato slices and that is it! Do not add any other ingredients. Turn and cook on both sides. Yummy!


  • john October 27, 2011 at 3:37 am

    This is an awesome recipe for an awesome dish. I remember the many times I had this while in Spain.. absolutely delicious!


  • Tricia October 27, 2011 at 7:56 am

    I love the flavor of pimenton de la vera — which is the flavor of Spanish cooking!


  • sandy October 27, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I do love the food of Spain. I love the chipirones (tiny squid), the Jamon. chorizo. morcilla, olive oil from siurana, pan tomate, the wine, the tapas (not like in America). Tapas is an amazing display of tasty tidbits and an entire social scene.


  • Brian Caputo October 28, 2011 at 11:42 am

    jamon iberico pata negra de bellota with some pan con tomate, and some R Lopez de Heredia Rioja. heaven.


  • K@ Brochure Printing October 29, 2011 at 1:47 am

    i so love Spanish food, especially Arroz ala valenciana! When it's Thanksgiving, food at home is a fusion of Eurasian dishes and of course, the turkey roast with skewered vegan goodies, it's a very festive day, i'm all up and excited!


  • Kathy November 1, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Such lovely and inventive recipes. Would love to give them a try.


  • Peter November 2, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    …our lucky cookbook giveaway winner is Brian! Gracias a todos for your comentarios.


  • Cheryl November 10, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    I love the amazing flavors in Spanish food, especially those from picadas and sofrito. If you have these two items in your freezer, you can cook food quickly that has complex, delicious flavors! But my all time favorite Spanish food has to be chocolate con churros!


  • Cynthia Harney November 11, 2011 at 6:08 am

    Being from a spanish family I must love spanish food, but keeping my mine open for dishes like these that I have not tried and will do is what is great in life. Thank you for the classic stuff!


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