I dont win things very often (hardly ever actually) so when I had a lovely tweet from Sabato telling me I has won a bottle of their delish Mas Portell Merlot Vinegar I said oh yes please. This recipe is inspired by my trip on Saturday to pick up my prize. As the Minister of Finance predicted I did come away having spent some dosh, but in my defence I defy anyone to wander that showroom & not haul the wallet out.......I was actually pretty restrained.......really. Really.
I attended a cooking demo at Sabato a few weeks ago, tapas & cazuela cooking, during which this vinegar was sloshed over some frizzled chorizo. It was completely moreish, and got me thinking how I could incorporate this into something more substantial. While I COULD eat my body weight in chorizo I do realise it probably isn't the lunch of champions. So in came lentils, providing a nutty substance to the hot spicy sausage. Lentils are a great foil to fatty meat, they pick up other flavours and provide a gentle background taste of their own.Adding some crunch with nuts seemed a good plan, especially as I cant think od Spain without thinking of Almonds (I'll elaborate later....) The dressing is super easy, and uses another Spanish ingredient, Membrillo, or Quince Paste. I love this stuff, we eat a lot of cheese (I don't really have a sweet tooth, but love some cheese at the end of a meal) and this is a gorgeous accompaniment. I should have made some during Quince season (I made Quince and Apple sauce instead....) but the brought stuff is great, and lasts for yonks in the fridge. Anything sweet with a hit of tartness would work of course, redcurrant jelly, guava jelly, fig paste, even a tangy marmalade? It is melted in the pan you cook the chorizo in, with your red wine vinegar, mustard and some water, simple but tasty.....
Chorizo & lentil salad with membrillo vinaigrette
Serves 2 with enough for lunch the next day (this is a TOP packed lunch)
100 grams lentils (Puy lentils would be great here, or I use these Montebello lentils from Italy)
1 clove of garlic, peeled
3 spicy chorizo sausages ( I love L'Authentiquie Chorizo, nice & spicy)
Handful of Almonds ( preferably raw to toast them yourself, but don't stress if they are already toasted)
One red pepper (capsicum)
1/2 red onion
Parsley (or rocket if you prefer)
Salt & pepper
Splash olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar (obviously I can recommend the Mas Portell, but use what you have)
2 tbsp water
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp Quince paste (or alternative, see above)
Bring a medium sized saucepan of water to the boil, and add your lentils and garlic. Set the timer for 25 minutes.
Turn the grill to high, and put your pepper, sliced into four pieces and cored, onto a tray. I cover mine with foil, to save washing up. Pop under the grill and burn baby burn. You want black charred bits, so be brave.
When you have reached a sufficiently worrying burntness, take out and pop straight into a plastic bag, sealing the top. The peppers will steam, and the skin will peel off easily after a few minutes.
Sice your onion into thin crescents, and pop in a small bowl. Splash over a tbsp of the red wine vinegar. This will take the acrid taste out of the onion, and make it much more palatable to eat raw. I always do this with raw onion, sometimes using lemon, or lime, anything acid will do the trick. Your friends will thank you....
In a small frying pan toast your almonds. This is done over a medium heat, in a dry pan. Just keep your eye on them, they will burn in a heartbeat. Mine took about 4-5 minutes, when they are done tip into a small bowl, so you can reuse the pan
Pop you pan back on the heat, and add a splash of oil. Chop your chorizo into small chunks, or if you prefer, squeeze out small nuggets of meat from the casing. Add to the pan, and fry for 5-8 minutes until cooked and starting to crisp up. Pop onto a warm plate and get on with your dressing!
Into the same pan add a splash of oil, your water, vinegar, quince paste and mustard. Whisk together and bring to the boil. You will think oh my goodness what a mess, but trust me, it will come together.
Once your peppers have had 10 minutes or so, take them out of the bag & peel the skin off, it will come away easily. Slice into strips, and douse with Olive oil, salt & pepper
Now drain off your lentils, and add your dressing, onions, nuts, and some of the parsley leaves. I use the parsley more as a salad leaf than a herb in this, if you prefer rocket would be great, or mixed leaves. Spoon out onto a plate and top with your peppers, and chorizo. Check the seasoning, and sprinkle over more parsley. Tuck in and enjoy
I have probably made this sound far more complicated than necessary, but I do urge you to try it, even non lentil fans would be convinced. A great vegetarian version would use helloumi cheese and a chopped chili, salty & hot, yummo........
I spent a lot of time in Spain when Mr PK & I lived in London, mainly in Sedella with my great friend Tiffany & her mum Estelle & much missed step father Dave. Isn't it beautiful?
They grow lots of beautiful produce in the area, including Olives and Almonds. On our very first trip to Sedella, lacking even basic Spanish and flying solo, we stayed in Estelle and Dave's little house, down a narrow lane near the square. We had been invited by Tiff's friend Jose to his parents for lunch after church on Sunday (this is Victoria's tortilla here) so I didn't have any breakfast.
Leaving the house we were waylayed by Antonio Almonds (most males in the village are called Antonio or Paco, so they get extra identifiers....) who had vast bags of nuts in his front room. He spoke no English, so we did lots of smiling while he insisted on pouring a glass of Village wine (at 10am!). Unfortunately some of gesticulating indicated the grapes had been crushed by his very own feet. If this ever happens to you can I offer a kernel of advice?
Don't look at the feet!!!!!!!!
A little disclaimer.....
I am happy to recommend the vinegar as despite winning it, I had already actually brought a bottle myself (before you say greedy trollop I am giving my extra bottle to my sister!) after tasting it, so I feel happy to recommend. But as a rule I never mention/recommend a product I have not purchased and used myself. :)