I thought I’d be making something uniquely Spanish for my first homemade dinner in Barcelona but I let the fresh ingredients at the market and meals I had in restaurants over the weekend determine the results.
There was also another first today – shopping alone at the local fresh market – and realising I need to know more Spanish words and phrases! Like, ‘I’ll have half a kilo’, ‘Can I try those olives?’, ’10 slices of jamon please’! It was a tad embarrassing to say the least and I’ll be rectifying it asap.
I couldn’t resist a large pile of glossy black eggplants (aubergines) and practically got pulled towards them like a magnet. They sat in a huge pyramid shape and glistened sexily – I swear one winked at me – so it got swiftly swept into my basket.
The super friendly woman at the lamb counter was mincing lamb fresh from a big chunk. How could I resist? She also taught me how to say ‘Un medio kilo’, or ‘Half a kilo’, for which I’m forever grateful.
And that brings me to why I decided to make this dish. On the weekend we went to Barcelonta which is a gorgeous beach-side neigbourhood because I’d been tipped off that the best seafood restaurants were to be found there. We did find one, more on that soon, and we ate a fabulous noodle paella, I had no idea they existed?
That afternoon on a quick trip to the supermarket for some basic supplies I passed the dried pasta aisle and saw the same pasta shape that was used in the paella. I think they call it Fideo and it’s like a thin version of bucatini in short lengths.
As usual, I was making things up as I went along while cooking, hence the addition of a splash of Rosé wine (I was drinking some), it’s not essential but what better excuse to buy a bottle and drink the rest?
It’s really warm in Barcelona and we’ve been cranking the air-con in our apartment and so could handle this warm and comforting dish even though it’s Summer time. Also, it’s a little nod to my mates back home who are rugged up by the heater.
We’re back to Japan for the next post! See you then :)
RECIPE (Convert measurements here)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium brown onion, sliced into thin wedges
2 medium eggplants, diced (about 3 cups)
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 fresh chilli, finely sliced
500g ground lamb
125ml rosé wine
400g can whole peeled tomatoes
large handful finely chopped flat leaf parsley
hot cooked pasta, to serve
1. Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and add the onion and eggplant. Sauté for 3-5 minutes until the onions become translucent and the eggplant starts to brown around the edges and soften.
2. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Add the mince and break it up into small chunks with a wooden spoon, allowing it to brown evenly. Season generously with salt and cracked pepper.
3. Once the meat is fully cooked and slightly caramelised splash over the rosé and scrape all the yummy bits off the bottom of the pan and incorporate into the sauce. When the wine is almost evaporated add the whole tomatoes, then put a splash of water into the can and swish it around and add to the pan.
4. Break up the whole tomatoes with a wooden spoon and allow to simmer for 30-40 minutes stirring occasionally until thickened. Check the seasoning. Throw in the parsley 2 minutes before the end of cooking and serve with hot cooked al dente pasta.