Pure Spanish comfort food, as a side or entrée, that is quick, easy, and is perfect for sopping up with some great bread.
THE RAMBLE: WINNER FOR TEAM SPAIN!
LET’S TALK ABOUT the guy who served me most of my classic Spanish and Basque (Euskadi) dishes. Hermano M, we’ll call him (I know, every time I use the word ‘hermano’, I think of Arrested Development also). One of the most generous people I have ever met in my life, Hno. M was a member of the congregation of the LDS church in Bilbao and he invited the missionaries over every Saturday to his house. There were 8 of us altogether, I believe, serving in the greater Bilbao area at that time, so he would invite over the companionship that served in his immediate area and then rotated one of the other companionships to join them. In a tiny, Spanish piso (flat), that was a lot of people! He was even so kind that he had us all during the holidays, so 9 people altogether. No matter the group size, we were always completely stuffed! On the days we were so lucky enough to go to Hno. M’s house, I would eat a very light breakfast because I knew what was coming. We would be so excited all day, and we were giddy walking to his piso when mediodia (Spanish lunchtime) came. He would have us sit, slice up the fresh bread, open up and serve the lemon-lime soda, then we would start with this dish, white beans and chorizo in a tomato sauce. This is my recipe based on what I remember his dish to taste like. The only, very sad thing is that we can’t get Spanish morcilla (blood sausage) here in the States, so we just have the chorizo in mine. That dang morcilla made them so rich and velvety and just incredible…sigh…We would start with a huge bowl of these rich beans with bread, then the meal would continue with a HALF of a roasted chicken for each of us, and I believe a salad, and maybe some other small sides. Then we would have ice cream for the postre (dessert), and then we would finish with a cup of herbal tea. We would be completely stuffed! Not only were we stuffed and wobbling from his piso, but he would send us home with one of my favorite treats I ate in Spain/Euskadi, a nata (layer of firmly whipped cream) and chocolate covered palmera from the little pastelaria close to his house. We would always eat a little bit of it, because they are so goshdarn delicious, but we were so full, and they were so big, that we always had something special to eat later that night after out talking to people. I can’t think of a more generous person in my life. And I miss him and everyone that I love so much in my second home of Bilbao.
LET’S TALK ABOUT these simple beans. We make a homemade tomate frito since we don’t have it here in the States, which is the ubiquitous tomato sauce there. It is smooth, on the perfect tangy tomato-y side, and goes with everything! So, we’ll just make our own. It’s just tomatoes with a few other simple things, and I’m sure every brand over there does something different. It’s basically tomatoes with a little carrot, onion, green pepper, garlic, simple herbs, etc. and you can pick what you like. Then it’s just really simple: chorizo, olive oil, beans, and thyme. If you are lucky enough to throw in a Spanish blood sausage then DO IT, by all means! **If you can’t find Spanish style chorizo (very different from the soft, Mexican-style chorizo), then get some other kind of dry-cured Italian sausage and add about 1/8-1/4 tsp pimentón (smoked hot paprika) and about 1/2-1 tsp regular paprika and that will give it a close enough flavor.** This will fill you up as a side or as an entrée. It is a must with great, crusty bread.
Need a great bread recipe? Here’s my Tool Time: Food Processor French Bread (2.5 hrs!) and Rosemary Sea Salt Toasts that would be perfect for this, and if you need a Spanish/Basque dessert, make this: Travel Without Moving: Txirimiri and Rustic Spanish Churros con Chocolate.
If you ever have the life-changing opportunity to visit Bilbao, get some Basque swag at Kukuxumusu. They have a lot of humorous sheep and bull characters that are quintessentially Basque and Spanish. There is something for everyone at their clothing company!
WHO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT making great Spanish food: Sandee A @sandeea of her blog La Receta de la Felicidad and book Chocolate (y sorteo!) (can be translated to English), Asun @recetashuga of her blog Las Mejores Recetas de Huga, Miriam of her blog El Invitado de Invierno, Donostia Foods, Sonia of her blog L’Equisit, Laura and Eduardo of their blog Hola Foodie, Cristina of her blog Espía en la Cocina, Pecados de Reposteria, Mikel of Louis’s Bakery, Patricia of her blog Sabores y Momentos, the beloved Jenny Chandler’s The Food of Northern Spain, and my newest favorite Spanish cookbook, Cúrate by el Bulli intern and Cúrate restaurant owner Katie Button.
White Beans and Chorizo with Homemade Tomate Frito
Homemade Tomate Frito
Adapted from Sabores y Momentos, easy level fuss, makes 3 cups, about 15-20 mins to make.
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 TBS olive oil
1/2 white onion, roughly chopped
1 Italian green/frying pepper or 1/3 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
1 small carrot, peeled, roughly chopped
1 plump clove garlic, minced/pressed/grated
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
- In a medium saucepan over medium-medium low heat, add olive oil, onion, pepper, and carrots. Sauté until soft, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté another minute or two, until soft and fragrant. Add crushed tomatoes and let simmer with the vegetables about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally (covered helps the splatters!). Transfer contents to a food processor/blender or use an immersion blender and blend until completely smooth. Add back to the saucepan over medium low heat. Add sugar and salt, stir, check for seasoning balance, then serve, or let cool and place in a glass jar and keep in the fridge 3-4 days.
White Beans and Chorizo
Spain vs Korea Recipes Original, easy level fuss, serves 4 as a large side, about 15 minutes to make.
3 TBS olive oil
6 inch piece of Spanish-stye chorizo (**see above note), cut into small cubes or into thin rounds
1 tsp dried thyme
2 (15 oz) cans white beans (butter beans, great northern/cannellini, etc.), drained and rinsed well
2 cups homemade tomate frito
- In a large saucepan over medium-medium low heat, add olive oil and chorizo. Sauté about 4-5 minutes, until the chorizo has slightly started to caramelize and infuse the oil. Add thyme, beans, and tomate frito. Stir, reduce heat to low, and let everything simmer about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Serve with really great bread, like my Tool Time: Food Processor French Bread (2.5 hrs!) and Rosemary Sea Salt Toasts or Chemistry: Herbs de Provence 5-Minute/Overnight Boule. Even better the next day!