Vegetarian Vuelta a España: Spanish Potatoes with Saffron, Almonds, and Bread Crumbs

August 19, 2011 By: Megabeth Category: Side Dishes, Vegetarian Vuelta a España

It all began couple years ago on Veggin’ with a vegetarian Tour of France, then a vegetarian Giro d’Italia, next a brief dip into a vegetarian Tour of California, now let’s tour España.

Over the next couple weeks, I’ll be bringing some vegetarian twists on Spanish recipes that will coincide with the 66th running of the Vuelta a España. I will also be posting simultaneously on Podium Cafe – an infamous cycling fan site where good people meet up to talk about their love of the sport.

We’ll talk a little bit more about the race in the days to come, but it’s time for eating.

Legend has it that the first potato arrived in Europe from the “New World” through Spain sometime in the mid-1500’s. Since then, Spain has adored the spud featuring it in many classic recipes. This recipe for spanish potatoes is no exception which can be enjoyed as a side dish or part of your tapas presentation.

I was asked, when I announced my intentions to do a vegetarian Vuelta a España if I’d be featuring saffron. But, of course! Spain is the largest exporter of saffron, so it’s only natural I use it in these recipes. Saffron is the bright star of this dish leaving you with that subtle perfumed flower flavor. Don’t worry about blowing your budget on this expensive flavoring, just a little bit will do you just right in this recipe.

If you’re patient enough, and can stand the wonderful cooking smells from the oven, let these potatoes get nice and crispy in the oven. That little extra time will adds a little smokiness and texture to the potatoes.

Spanish Potatoes with Saffron, Almonds, and Bread Crumbs
from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison (See my review of this cookbook.)

  • 2 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • salt and freshly milled pepper
  • 2 pinches saffron threads
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil, preferably Spanish
  • 1/2 cup blanched almonds, roughly chopped (I used sliced almonds and chopped them.)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 2 cups boiling water or Herb and Garlic broth (recipe forthcoming)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 slice country white bread

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil a gratin dish that’s large enough to hold the potatoes in a single layer. Add the potatoes, season them with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with the saffron.

Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat, tear the bread into pieces, and fry it with the almonds and garlic until golden.

Remove the garlic if it gets too dark. Grind the mixture in a food processor with the paprika, adding a little of the boiling water to make it smooth.

Season it with salt and pepper, add it to the potatoes, and pour over the remaining liquid.

Cover and bake for 45 minutes, then uncover, gently stir the contents of the dish, and continue baking until the liquid has been absorbed and the potatoes are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Brown the top under the broiler and garnish with the parsley.

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Vegetarian Paella

July 09, 2009 By: Megabeth Category: Culinary Tour de France, Main Dishes

It may be the Tour de France but some stages do dip into other countries…as shall I. I’ve been focusing on French dishes but today’s stage ended in beautiful Barcelona, Spain. That means, it’s time to whip up a Paella!

There are literally thousands of ways to make paella. I used a lot of the vegetables that I received in my weekly vegetable delivery (including a lot of the green onions!) Feel free to throw in whatever vegetables you may have on hand beyond what I have listed below – carrots, asparagus, peppers, capers, whatever. The key is throwing it in at the right times so you don’t end up with a squishy vegetable mess. The more delicate the vegetable, the later you throw it in. Be sure to let the cover sit on the pan to let everything steam and cook, but check to make sure the liquid isn’t burning off too quickly or the rice won’t be able to cook very well.

Paella is actually very easy to make and it becomes a really hearty dish with not a lot of added extra fat.  It’s a great dish to serve to a crowd and doesn’t require a lot of babysitting while it cooks. (And, if you ask nicely, perhaps someone will get up and check on the paella when it’s cooking so you don’t have to…)

Megabeth’s Paella

  • 4 green onions, white parts minced
  • ½ red onion, minced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 – 3 cups vegetable stock (Go here to learn how to make your own…)
  • 1 cup uncooked white rice (if you use brown, increase the cooking time
  • 3 corn cobs, cut into thirds
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 yellow squash, sliced
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 14 ounce can artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon saffron, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper

In a small bowl, put crushed saffron in 1 Tablespoon of water and set aside.

In a large cast iron skillet, heat olive oil on medium. Add onions and garlic and cook until translucent and softened.

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Vegetarian Pallela

Add white rice, stir to coat with the oil, and cook until beginning to brown.

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Vegetarian Pallela

Add one cup of vegetable stock and tomatoes.

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Vegetarian Pallela

Add saffron and the water it was soaked in, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine.

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Vegetarian Pallela

Turn heat to high and bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to low. Add zuchinni, yellow squash and corn. Cover with a tight fitting lid and let simmer for 20 minutes on low.

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Vegetarian Pallela

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Vegetarian Pallela

Life cover, stir, and add artichoke hearts, and more of the vegetable broth. Replace cover and continue simmering until rice is cooked through – another 20 – 30 minutes. Stir occasionally and add additional broth or water if rice begins to dry out in the cooking process.

A Vegetarian Tour de France: Vegetarian Pallela

Chickpea and Spinach Stew

June 18, 2009 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes

This is definitely a recipe that I will double the next time that I make it. It’s not because it didn’t make enough for a meal, in fact, we both went back for seconds and thirds. I just wish there was more of this stew leftover for more than just one lunch the next day. But, I was kind and let my in-house taste tester get the leftovers. He owes me now.

I served this really satisfying stew with some fresh and warm naan. It was fantastically warm, flavorful and uniquely spiced.

Chickpea and Spinach Stew
Food & Wine Magazine

  • 1 cup water
  • 10 ounces baby spinach
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • Kosher salt
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas with their liquid
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato—peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins (I omitted the raisins.)
  • Crusty bread, for serving (I served mine with naan.)

Pour the water into a large deep skillet and bring to a boil. Add the spinach leaves and cook over high heat, tossing frequently, until wilted, about 2 minutes.

Chickpea and Spinach Stew

Chickpea and Spinach Stew

Drain the spinach in a colander, pressing hard on the leaves to extract the liquid. Coarsely chop the spinach.

Using the flat side of a large knife, mash the garlic to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the saffron. Transfer the garlic paste to a small bowl.

Chickpea and Spinach Stew Garlic Salt and Saffron

Chickpea and Spinach Stew

Add the paprika, cumin, cloves and black pepper and mash until combined. Stir in 1/4 cup of the chickpea liquid.

Chickpea and Spinach Stew Spices

Chickpea and Spinach Stew

Wipe out the skillet. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to the skillet and heat until shimmering. Add the onion and tomato and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until they are softened, about 3 minutes.

Chickpea and Spinach Stew

Add the spiced garlic sauce to the onion and tomato in the skillet and cook for 1 minute.

Chickpea and Spinach Stew

Add the chickpeas and the remaining liquid to the skillet. If using, add the raisins and bring to a boil over moderately high heat.

Chickpea and Spinach Stew

Add the spinach, reduce the heat to moderate, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Chickpea and Spinach Stew

Chickpea and Spinach Stew

Transfer the chickpea stew to 4 deep bowls, drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil on top, and serve.



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