By Ernest Barteldes
If you have reading this blog (or its email newsletter incarnation that goes to select friends’ inboxes in addition to entertainment publicists) for a while you are probably aware that I am pretty open minded when it comes to food. Over the years I have experienced the cuisines of various nations, and many of their recipes have made their way to my kitchen and either become staples I make all the time or something that is only prepared on special occasions.
From all the different varieties of food I have experienced in recent years, I must say that Mediterranean cooking takes the top prize. Dishes from those areas (which include Turkey, Spain, Italy and Greece) are extremely fragrant and delicious. Sure, some of them can be pretty labor-intensive (think Paella) but the result is always great, because the mixture of various ingredients and fresh spices is like having a party on your palate.
Among the most common ingredients in Mediterranean cooking are cilantro, saffron and (in the case of Spain and Portugal) chorizo. The latter is a fatty sausage that when cooked releases lots of color and flavor to the dish. All three ingredients are very present in paella, contributing to its flavor, smell and specially the presentation. Both are also part of the recipe for chicken and rice (arroz con pollo, which I shared here a while ago) and many others.
Mediterranean salads are pretty surprising, and again range from 1-2-3 simple to extremely complex and laborious. Spanish recipes have found their way to the Americas through colonization, and countries like Mexico, Peru and Cuba have adapted many of these dishes to fit the ingredients they can find locally – for instance, ropa vieja in Spain is made with potatoes, while the Cuban version is more meat-filled. Among the favorites put in rotation at our home (Renata loves it) is a simple three-ingredient salad made with lima beans, mushrooms and chorizo.
Recipe: Mushroom, fava bean and chorizo salad
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 oz fresh white mushrooms, sliced
1 small chorizo sausage, sliced.
8 oz. shelled fava beans.
Steam or boil the fava beans (if boiling lightly salt the water) until softened and reserve. Fry chorizo until cooked and the oils have released. Toss beans, mushrooms and chorizo. Season with salt and pepper, refrigerate for about 30 minutes and serve with a drizzle of olive oil.