I gained 3 lbs in Barcelona (WORTH IT). Here’s how:

Plate of Calamaritti (ittuh bittuh squids) and bottle of Cava at La Mar Salada.

Paella at La Mar Salada (which we went to because of this NY Times article). Awkward photo courtesy of said bottle of Cava.

Jamon y queso bocadillo (Spanish ham and cheese sandwich). This was from a little shop in the Born neighborhood in Spain. Also, I want to give a shout-out to Pans&Company. It’s the Spanish version of Subway, but even their version of Jambon Y Queso brought me to my knees. WHY IS SPAIN SO MUCH BETTER THAN US AT HAM?

A pitcher of Sangria and tapas at Bilbao Berria. Each tapas is 1.65 Euros. You go up to the counter, help yourself to whatever looks good, pop the skewers that stick out of each tapas into the metal cup in the middle of your table. At the end of the night, the waiter counts your skewers and charges your accordingly.


My favorite tapas at Bilbao Berria. Iberian ham, roasted chile pepper, and a quail egg on toast. YOU MUST GO HERE.

Pig jowl. So sweet, so tender, so rich. From some tiny restaurant in rural Spain where no one spoke any English. I wish I remembered the name. Not that I could ever remember how to get there again or anything…

Wine and Cava tasting at this beautiful vineyard. Wine and cava tasting where there is no spit bucket… that was also an interesting afternoon. Why does Spain drink SO MUCH?

Cannelloni stuffed with roast beef, covered in cheese, spritzed with truffle oil from Restaurant L’Etapes. This is a traditional Catalan Christmas dish, as well as the signature dish of this restaurant. Will and I decided that this was our very favorite restaurant of our entire trip. It was small and quaint, with a waitstaff who truly cared that you enjoyed each and every dish they brought out. Every one of the tapas was superbly executed, using very fresh ingredients.

Mussels with tomatoes, garlic scapes, and crispy onions at Ohla Gastronomic Bar. Basically every traditional restaurant in Barcelona is closed on Sunday nights, except for ones that are located in hotels. We came across this one by sheer dumb luck our first night, and decided to eat there the last night as well as it was a) wonderful and b) everything else was closed. Other highlights of this meal included gazpacho with sardines and spelt bread crumbs, dried tuna with shaved macadamia nuts. Again, highly recommended, particularly on Sunday night.

So as you can see, we ate our weight in cured meat and cheese. We were desperately craving something like this as soon as we got home:

Lots and lots of arugula, tossed with chickpeas, pasta, and goat cheese. Full of vitamins and fiber (things we seemed to have missed ordering off tapas menus in Spain). I added a hard boiled egg to the leftovers the next day, for a little extra protein. It was lovely. It’s all about balance, I suppose.

Salut!

ARUGULA, CHICKPEA, AND GOAT CHEESE PASTA SALAD (by me)

Serves 8 as a main course

It took us a few days to eat this. I normally wait until the last minute to dress my salads, but the dressing was light enough that the greens never got soggy. You can dress it ahead of time and help yourself as you please, if you like.

Ingredients

8 cups arugula

1 can chickpeas

4 oz goat cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup good olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 lb cooked, cooled pasta

Salt & Pepper to taste

Recipe

Put arugula, chickpeas, and goat cheese into an enormous bowl. Whisk together garlic, olive oil, and red pepper flakes, then pour the dressing over the beans and greens. Mix together with your hands or salad tongs. Add pasta and mix again until well combined. Add salt & pepper to taste.

Mexican Chopped Salad

January 25, 2011

Our friends Reed and David had us over for fried cod tacos (yum!) and asked us to bring over a salad or vegetable. Using the power of the internet, I found this delicious Mexican Chopped Salad. It’s very simple to make, it just requires you to chop, chop, chop vegetables. It’s really just a bunch of corn, black beans, avocado, radishes, red peppers, jalapenos, jicama, lettuce, pickled onions, tomatoes, and cheese all jumbled together in a big old pile. It is delicious, and when mixed with some chicken, it makes a complete and healthy meal.

I can picture making this often during the summer. When it’s sweltering and the last thing I could possibly want to do is use an oven. Yet dinner, somehow, will have to get made. I’ll just chop, chop, chop my way to dinner then, I suppose. And will be aided by a cold margarita. Though I always endorse making things as much from scratch as possible, I would like to give Simply Limeaid a shout out as my favorite, shortcut margarita base. Just mix a cup with a shot of tequila and a 1/2 shot of Cointreau, and you’re well on your way to summertime happiness in the middle of winter.

Finally, I’m going to post this video because Reed and David would want me to.

I hope you enjoy this healthy salad! Let’s just say I needed to eat something nutritious like this for dinner before I ate my next very decadent post for dessert. Stay tuned!

MEXICAN CHOPPED SALAD (adapted from Mexican Chopped Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing from SELF)

Serves 8-10 as a side, 6-8 as a main with chicken

I did try the Honey-Lime Dressing from the original recipe, but it was a real disappointment. It wasn’t very flavorful, and the olive oil was completely out of place with the honey and jalapeno.  I decided that a good alternative would be to mash up some avocado with lime juice and salt and pepper, and toss the salad with the mash. It’s delicious.

If you’re going to make this ahead of time, chop and mix all ingredients except the lime juice, avocado, and cheese. Right before serving, toss your avocado/lime mixture and cheese with the salad.

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups chopped romaine lettuce leaves

1 can (15.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and well drained

4 tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1 small jicama, peeled and chopped

Kernels from 2 ears corn or 1 can (15.5 oz) corn kernels, uncooked

1 small bunch radishes, thinly sliced

1 red peper, chopped

2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped

1 cup pickled onions (click here for recipe) or 1/2 a fresh red onion, diced

2 ripe avocadoes, peeled

Juice of 4 limes (about 1/2 cup)

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Salt and Pepper

2 chicken breasts

Tortilla chips (optional)

Recipe

Bring a few cups water to a boil. Place your chicken breasts in the water and boil for about 40-50 minutes until meat in the center is white, turning breasts in the pot halway through cooking. Once cooled, shred the chicken with forks or your hands.

In a large bowl, toss together lettuce, black beans, tomatoes, jicama, corn, radishes, red pepper, jalapenos, onion, and chicken.

Mash the avocados with a fork and squirt lime juice over them. Add salt and pepper to taste, then mash the whole mixture up. Toss salad with the avocado mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy.

Celery root is the fugliest thing that’s been in my kitchen.

When I brought it up to the cashier at Sunflower, she said, “What… is that?”

But it’s tasty. And when caramelizing, it fills the kitchen with the most delicious, anise-like scent.

I find that during the holidays, my food desires alternate between things doused in chocolate and/or caramel and/or peppermint, and things that are healthy and hearty. I’ll show you how I most recently indulged my chocolate craving next post (oh, it’s a good one).

If you’re looking for something healthy and hearty, try this out. It’s even a vegan dish. I only realized it in hindsight. And it’s low calorie and high fiber. In fact, there’s only one problem with this dish. I’ll give you a hint that starts out like this: “Beans, beans are good for your heart…”

For more vegan recipes check out my vegan page

LENTILS WITH CARAMELIZED CELERY ROOT AND PARSLEY (adapted only slightly from Martha Stewart Living, December 2010)

You will ideally find and use French lentils for this (which are a bit thicker and heartier than regular lentils) but regular lentils are what I used and they worked just fine.

Ingredients

2 cups cold water

3/4 cup lentils

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium celery root (about 1 pound) washed well, peeled, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 small shallot, minced

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Recipe

1. Bring water and lentils to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat, and gently simmer, partially covered, until lentils are just tender, 25-30 minutes. Drain lentils and transfer to a medium bowl.

2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium nonstick high-sided skillet over medium heat. Cook celery root, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, 18-20 minutes.

3. Add celery root to bowl with lentils. Stir in parsley, lemon juice, shallot, and salt and pepper to taste. Let cool. Divide among 4 bowls.

OH MY GOD MAKE THIS NOW.

This chili is smoky and spicy. It comes together in a little less than an hour, but it tastes like it took all day to cook. The tomatoes, jalapeno, onion, and garlic are charred under the broiler before being added to the stew.

And it has croutons made of CORNBREAD. (This marks the first time in my life I have been excited about a crouton).

Don’t even get me started (can I hear it from the sistas) on how brilliant Lucinda Scala Quinn was to do that to store bought cornbread. This is my favorite chili or, come to think of it, soup/stew of all time.

And if you make it, it will probably make you all googly eyed too.

More soups and stews: Quick Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup), Roasted Tomato and Garlic Soup, Butternut Squash and Ginger Soup

What I’m Reading:

CHICKEN CHILI (only slightly adapted from Lucinda Scala Quinn as published in Martha Stewart Living, October 2010)

Do beware that this chili is SPICY. I’m saying that and I love spicy food. Next time, I’d seed the jalapeno before cooking. My only change was to add a mix of white and dark meat, based on my preference for a mix of meats.

Keeps in the fridge for a week or the freezer for a month

Serves 4-6

Ingredients for Chicken Chili

  • 10 plum tomatoes or tomatoes on the vine, halved lengthwise
  • 1 jalapeno chile, halved (seeded if desired)
  • 1 white onion, peeled and halved
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • Salt
  • 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • 1 3/4 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans, drained
  • Desired toppings (I like avocado mashed with a little lemon to stop it from going brown and cilantro

Ingredients for Cornbread Croutons

  • Cornbread or Corn Muffins (I just used a Jiffy Mix)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Recipe for Chicken Chili

  1. Preheat broiler, with rack 3 inches from heat source. Arrange tomatoes, jalapeno, onion, and garlic, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil until starting to char, about 5 minutes. Pulse tomatoes and jalapeno in a blender or a food processor until chunky. Chop onion and mince garlic.
  2. Heat a large heavy skillet (preferably enamel cast-iron) over medium-high heat. Add oil. Working in batches, brown chicken in a single layer, allowing to sear before stirring, 5 to 6 minutes; transfer to a plate.
  3. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion and garlic to skillet. Cook until soft and golden, about 8 minutes. Add chili powder and 2 teaspoons salt. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in chipotles, and add chicken. Raise heat to high. Add tomato-jalapeno mixture. Cook, scraping up browned bits, until fully incorporated, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in stock; simmer for 20 minutes. Add beans; simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with Corn Muffin Croutons and other desired toppings.

Recipe for Cornbread Croutons

  1. Cut corn muffins or corn bread into 3/4-inch cubes; toss with olive oil and salt.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until golden, about 20 minutes.