Archive for the ‘Vegetarian Vuelta a España’

Vuelta a España: Herb and Garlic Broth

August 26, 2011 By: Megabeth Category: Other, Recipe, Vegetarian Vuelta a España

This post is sort of a conglomeration of various cycling things, recipes, and stories. You see, at the same time as the running of the Vuelta a España is the first running of the US Pro Cycling Challenge over in Colorado.

Tommy Danielson is a US Pro Cycling Challenge race favorite (no, really this time!), but he was quite under the weather due to some food poisoning the night before the individual time trial. During the coverage on Versus today, Tommy D described how he threw up all night long and had to crawl down the hallway in his underwear to the team doctor around 3 a.m.. He did not feel better until 5 a.m., but still managed to make it on the bike and only lost a few seconds to the leaders. Not a bad performance.

Tom Danielson feeling a lot better at the 2009 Tour of California.

I feel Tommy D’s pain, as I’ve struggled with food poisoning before. You see, we spent a beautiful few days in Seville, Spain, rented a car, and drove down to Gibraltar. About 10 miles into the journey, I started feeling queasy. A few miles later I knew I was sick. Then, after a few bouts of having to stop by the side of the road, I realized it was more than sick – I had some sort of food poisoning. We would go down the highway for a little bit, then have to stop, then go for a little bit, then have to stop.

Scenery along the way to Gibraltar…

Sadly, I lost an entire day of eating fine Spanish cuisine and could only choke down a can of Coke and a couple digestive biscuits.

In-House Taste tester had the presence of mind to capture my food poisoning moments on film… 

Fear not, by the time I made it to Gibraltar, I was feeling much better and managed to have a beer or two. (I opted for the beer rather than attempting to do an individual time trial like Tommy D. Better to leave that to the pros…)

When one is sick, you’re told to make sure you get plenty of fluids so here we go with another soup. This recipe for garlic soup is from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Our buddy Deborah cites this recipe as “good for colds and hangovers”. Excellent. Not sure about soothing the aftermath of food poisoning, but it does make a flavorful broth that enhances any recipe including the Spanish Potatoes with Saffron, Almonds, and Bread Crumbs featured previously on the Vegetarian Vuelta a Espana.

Herb and Garlic Soup
from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison (See my review of this cookbook.)

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  • 2 heads garlic, as fresh and firm as possible
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 2 cloves
  • 6 large sage leaves or 2 teaspoons died
  • 6 thyme sprigs or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 10 parsley branches
  • 2 teaspoons salt


Separate the garlic cloves by pressing down on the heads. Remove most of the papery skins, then smash the cloves with the flat side of the knife to open them up.
Heat the oil in a soup pot, add the tomato paste, and fry over medium heat for about a minute. Add the garlic, remaining ingredients, and 2 quarts water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the garlic cloves are soft, about 45 minutes.

Strain. Press the garlic through the strainer with the back of a spoon into the broth or press it into a dish and use for another purpose.

I only took one picture of the final broth. To make it up to my Veggin’ fans, here’s a picture of two Gibraltar monkeys.

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Vuelta a España: Salmorejo (Cold Tomato Soup)

August 24, 2011 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes, Other, Vegetarian Vuelta a España

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Thursday’s Vuelta a España stage brings us to a finish line in Córdoba. Córdoba is a beautiful town featuring lots of gorgeous architecture and a very fascinating history. It is also the birthplace of the soup known as Salmorejo (or “rabbit sauce”). But, I get ahead of myself, let me tell you a little Megabeth and In-House Taste Tester story…

During our visit to Spain few years ago, we had planned ahead and had all our hotel rooms booked except for our night in Córdoba. “No worries, we’ll find a place when we get there…” or so we thought. Turns out we were there on the same day as the Immaculada Concepcion. Apparently, folks head into Cordoba to celebrate, so, basically every hotel, B&B, motel, inn and manger were at and beyond capacity.

Mezquita-Catedral (The Great Mosque in Córdoba)

After searching for quite a bit, we finally found a woman who knew a woman who knew a woman who had a room for us to sleep in. We somehow managed to secure this room with our minimal grasp of the Spanish language and her non-existent knowledge of English. She was a kind old lady, inviting us to mass the next morning but we had to decline as we had an early morning train we needed to catch. We settled into a very tiny room with two very tiny rickety twin beds. Then, we realized, after we were lead upstairs to our room she promptly walked downstairs and locked us in for the night. (We think there was another boarder on the same floor as us but were a little too nervous to go out and meet him.) Don’t get me wrong, we were grateful for the room but we definitely had one of those, “What did we just get ourselves into?” moments.

Too bad we didn’t think ahead and smuggle in some of this tomato soup as the flavors are comforting and the bread blended in makes it oh so filling. If we had some of this soup, we probably would have had a better night’s sleep. (But, hey, beggars can’t be choosers, and, for those that were wondering, we did find the door unlocked in the morning…)

Outside the place that had the two rickety twin beds…

There seem to be as many versions of this recipe as there are celebrants in Córdoba on Immaculada Concepcion.  It’s traditionally served with serrano ham* and hard boiled eggs. But, I decided to turn it up a notch and go vegan with my interpretation of this recipe. Sure you can have gazpacho, but if you’re really hungry and want food NOW then check out this salmorejo.

*eating ham seems to be the national pastime of Spain.

By Megabeth

  • 1/4 of a loaf of a loaf of crispy stick/baguette bread
  • 6 – 8 medium, ripe tomatoes, chopped into large pieces
  • 3 to 4 Tablespoons Spanish olive oil
  • 3 to 4 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • salt

Tear bread into small pieces and place in bowl. Drizzle some water over the bread and leave it to soften a bit.

Throw tomatoes, oil, vinegar, garlic and salt in blender. Blend a bit until almost smooth.

Squeeze excess moisture out of bread and throw in blender with rest of the ingredients.

Blend it up until creamy. Serve cold.

Vegetarian Vuelta a España: Artichoke Rice Cakes with Manchego Cheese

August 22, 2011 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Vegetarian Vuelta a España

Continuing on through the Vegetarian Vuelta a España we get to one of my favorite subjects – Cheese! Manchego is a grassy, crumbly sheep cheese produced in the La Mancha region of Spain. Spaniards don’t mess around with the production of this cheese outlining particular qualities for a cheese to be designated as manchego.

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These qualities include the cheese being produced in a particular region, it can only be made from a specific breed of sheep raised on registered farms in this specific region, the cheese must be aged for at least 60 days and it must be produced in a cylindrical mold to very particular height and diameter specifications.

Well, with all this work to identify manchego cheese, we must appreciate its grassy and tart flavor with a great recipe – and this is it.

I quickly discovered that even before forming the rice into little cake, the rice mixture itself was so good that I feared we ate too much of it to make it to the frying stage. All you need to do is throw some shaved manchego on top of the prepped rice and you’re good to go for an amazing side dish. But, where’s the fun in that? Push your sleeves up, dig in, and get your hands gloopy making these rice cakes. Fry them up and enjoy. I did discover that if you place them in the pan and press them with your spatula, the cakes have a tendency to break apart. So, resist the urge to squish.

Finally, the original recipe calls for a fresh artichoke, but long-time readers know me…I get into the kitchen and the less to fuss with the better. Find good quality jarred/canned artichoke hearts in water and you’ve saved yourself some time and that pesky fuss.

Enjoy the manchego!

Artichoke Rice Cakes with Manchego
adapted from Spain Recipes

  • 8 quarters artichoke hearts from a jar, packed in water (not oil), finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup uncooked rice
  • 2  – 3 cups hot vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup Manchego cheese, very finely diced
  • 3-4 Tablespoon fine corn meal
  • olive oil, for frying
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • fresh flat leaf parsley, to garnish

Melt the butter in a pan and gently fry the chopped artichoke heart, onion and garlic for 5 minutes until softened. Stir in the rice and cook for about 1 minute.

Keeping the heat fairly high, gradually add the stock, stirring occasionally until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is cooked – this should take about 20 minutes.

Season well, then stir in the Parmesan cheese. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Leave to cool, then cover and chill for at least 2 hours Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the mixture into the palm of one hand, flatten slightly, and place a few pieces of diced cheese in the center.

Shape the rice around the cheese to make a small ball.

Flatten slightly, then roll in the corn meal, shaking off any excess. Repeat with the remaining mixture to make about 12 cakes.

Shallow fry the rice cakes in hot olive oil for 4-5 minutes until they are crisp and golden brown.

Drain on kitchen paper and serve hot, garnished with flat leaf parsley.

Vegetarian Vuelta a España: Spanish-Style Grilled Zucchini (Calabacitas a la Plancha)

August 20, 2011 By: Megabeth Category: Side Dishes, Vegetarian Vuelta a España

According to the International Olive Council, Spain completely smokes the competition when it comes to olive oil production. In 2009, Spain exported 1,150,000 tons of olive oil obviously winning this race in a stunning breakaway. Put that in context and that’s 40% of all olive oil produced in the world. Italy, tries to close the gap, but fails, and comes in at second place at 560,000 tons.

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Olive oil is produced nearly everywhere in Spain. Although, 80% of the olive oil is produced in the southern third of the country in the region of Andalucia. On Monday, the Vuelta stage will take us firmly into that region, so we need to be prepared.

This recipe does nicely featuring a really flavorful infused oil. The longer the oil sits, the better it becomes. And, with the leftovers you can dip crusty bread in it or drizzle it over tomatoes or grill even more vegetables with it.

Zucchini cooked on a searing hot cast-iron skillet gets nice and charred. Plan on making more than you think you’ll need. We ate through this batch so quickly because it was just that good. (By the way, I’m not ashamed to admit it. I set the smoke alarm off making these. I left a nice smoky ambiance in the house for a little bit, as well…)

Spanish-style Grilled Zucchini (Calabacitas a la Plancha) with Garlic and Parsley-Flavored Olive Oil
from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian

For the zucchini:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium zucchini (12 oz), cut diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • Salt
  • About 2 Tablespoons Spanish-Style Garlic and Parsley-Flavored Olive Oil (recipe follows)
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

For the Spanish-Style Garlic and Parsley-Flavored Olive Oil:

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

To make the garlic and parsley flavored olive oil:

Put the oil and garlic in a small pot and set over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for just 5 seconds, then immediately turn off the heat. Let the oil cool for 15 minutes, then stir in the salt and parsley. The oil is ready to use, or it may be transferred to a jar and refrigerated for 3 to 4 days. Bring it to room temperature before using.

To make the zucchini:

Set a cast-iron griddle or cast-iron frying pan over high heat. Let it et hot. Dribble just enough olive oil, about 1 tablespoon, to grease it lightly. When the oil is very hot, a matter of seconds, lay down enough zucchini slices to cover the bottom in a single layer.

Do not overcrowd. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until the bottom of the slices turn a rich medium brown. You may need to move the slices around so they all cook evenly. Turn the slices over. Cook for another 2 minutes, or until the second side turns medium brown.

Remove the slices from the pan and arrange in a single layer on a large platter. Cook all the zucchini slices this way. With each batch, remember to add enough oil to keep the pan lightly greased.

When the zucchini are all cooked, lightly sprinkle salt over the slices. Dribble the flavored oil evenly over the top, sprinkle on the parsley and serve.

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