Photo by Patricia Esteve
Winter warmers, healthy veg and festive dishes are on the shopping list this month
EAT YOUR GREENS
It’s a good time to eat some vitamin- and iron-rich leaves to fight off the chills. Two handy winter greens that are slightly hard to find, but worth hunting down, are grelos and canonigos. Grelos are turnip leaves, a favourite winter veg in Galicia where they’re used in such iconic dishes as lacon con grelos—a stew of pork, turnip tops, potatoes and chorizo. For a lighter dish, sweat some garlic in olive oil, add chopped grelos and sauté until wilted, then throw in some slices of cooked chorizo, season and serve sprinkled with white wine vinegar. Grelos can also be eaten raw, but they’re quite bitter so most people prefer to sweeten them by blanching in boiling water for a minute or two.
Canonigos, or lamb’s lettuce, are also slightly bitter, but have a nuttiness that makes them a great accompaniment for frutos secos (dried fruit). Try a canonigo salad with walnuts, goat’s cheese and an orange juice, balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil vinaigrette dressing. An interesting note: the plant belongs to the valerian family and is thought to have this herb’s relaxing properties—thus canonigos (canons) were regularly served them because it was thought to help damp down their passions and keep them from sin.
When buying both types of leaf look for tender, deep green specimens and keep in a breathable plastic bag in the fridge. The grelos should keep a few days, but the canonigos are best eaten as soon as possible. TS
TRINXAT DE LA CERDANYA
Now’s the time for comfort food whether you’re sheltering from the cold, or simply looking for something cheap and cheerful to see you through the ‘crisis’. And no single traditional dish does it better than trinxat, the Catalan equivalent to bubble and squeak. Using gutsy seasonal vegetables such as potatoes and cabbage, slabs of cansalada (pancetta in Castilian) for energy, and spiked up with a little garlic, it is the perfect rib-sticker after an afternoon on the slopes. I also love it for breakfast. Oh, and a pinch of chilli flakes doesn’t go amiss either.
1 kilo potatoes, diced
1 whole Savoy or Green cabbage
3 cloves garlic, sliced
Pinch chilli flakes (optional)
10 thick slices cansalada, diced
Boil the potatoes until tender. Meanwhile stir-fry the cansalada until crisp, reserving a handful. Add the cabbage, garlic and chilli flakes if using and fry in olive oil until golden at the edges. Finally, add the potatoes to the pan and cook through until nicely browned. Serve immediately scattered with the remaining cansalada. Alternatively you can mash the lot together and fry in small patties, which go great with roasts. TS
The 2011 Festa de Trinxat takes place in Puigcerdà on February 26th at the Pavelló Poliesportiu de Puigcerdà from 9pm. €30 per person. Tickets available from the Puigcerdà Tourist Office - tel. 972 88 05 42. www.puigcerda.com
It’s February and high season for the Catalan dish of xató, a salad made from preserved and seasonal ingredients that purportedly has its origins in the festival that traditionally accompanied the first tasting of the new wines. Apart from the sauce (more on that in a moment), it only has five basic ingredients so it’s easy to make, but it’s worth spending some time scouring the markets for the best crisp escarola lettuce, anchovies, salt cod, tuna and peppery little arbequina olives. The cod (bacallà in Catalan; bacalao in Castilian) needs to be bought pre-soaked or soaked at home for around 48 hours (change the water every 12 hours) to the point where it’s not too salty to eat but retains some tang, and then cut or shredded into small pieces. For the tuna, a tin of something decent, such as Ortiz’s line-caught Bonito del Norte will do very nicely, while the best anchovies, of course, will be from the town of l’Escala in the Alt Empordà. Arrange it all on a platter, then add dollops of the sauce which is similar to romesco and made in a pestle and mortar by grinding up almonds, hazelnuts, nyora peppers, garlic, onion, fried bread and olive oil (preferably made with arbequina olives too), although there is quite a bit of regional variation.
For detailed recipes, visit www.rutadelxato.com and check out the 85 restaurants on the official ‘xató route’ around the Penedès and Garraf, which lasts from December to April, and includes towns such as Sitges and Vilanova i la Geltrú. NF
And don't forget, calçots are still in season this month...