Saturday, December 3, 2016

Week 49 - Spanish Tapas

I was really excited when the Week 49 theme turned up as Spanish tapas. I love tapas and I love Mediterranean food, so even though it meant a lot of dishes in one night (and I'm slow in the kitchen), I couldn't wait. I knew I wanted to make patatas bravas, because I had made them once before but forgot how since I never blogged about it. I decided to add on one of my favorite vegetarian tapas - espinaca con garbanzos - which I've made a couple of times but also hadn't blogged about. For the last piece, I chose something new, a bean and chorizo salad that I found when looking through lists of tapas recipes and which I thought would go well with the others.

Patatas Bravas

A couple of years ago, I did a tapas night that included patatas bravas based on a recipe from BBC Good Food. I chose to use the same recipe again this time, hoping I could remember what modifications I made that time since, from what I remembered, it had come out pretty well.

The ingredients for our version of patatas bravas were:

- 5 small to medium potatoes, peeled and chopped ($1.04)
- olive oil ($0.30)
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped ($0.50)
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped ($0.10)
- 1 can of diced tomatoes ($0.80)
- 1 tbsp of tomato paste ($0.20)
- 1 tbsp of paprika ($0.10)
- 1 tbsp of chili powder (planned for a couple tsp but used more than expected) ($0.10)
- 1 spoonful of sugar ($0.05)
- salt and pepper to taste ($0.05)
- parsley to garnish ($0.45)

The steps for making the potatoes were:

- add peeled and chopped potato to greased baking pan and roast for about 50 minutes at 400 degrees until golden and a little more crisp
- add olive oil to large pot, heat, add onions and cook until soft and starting to brown
- add garlic to onions, cook for a minute or so, and then add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, paprika, chili powder, sugar, salt and pepper
- simmer sauce over low heat for at least 10-15 minutes
- when potatoes are done, add to the tomato sauce and mix together
- cook over low heat for a couple of minutes
- remove from heat and mix in parsley garnish

The potatoes came out pretty well, but they weren't really spicy like patatas bravas should be. The flavor seemed a little subdued despite all the paprika and chili powder that was added, so it was more like potatoes in a nice tasting tomato sauce. That said, it was still good, but just didn't have the kick that we wanted it to. Maybe next time I'll use smoked paprika instead.

Bean and Chorizo Salad

The new dish that was part of our tapas night was based on another recipe from BBC Good Food (didn't plan for this to be a BBC Good Food night, but just happened that way). I thought a bean salad would be a nice way to balance out two more hearty, rustic dishes.

The ingredients for the salad were:

- 4 large mushrooms, chopped ($1.05)
- olive oil ($0.50)
- 1 small red onion, sliced ($0.36)
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar ($0.25)
- 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed ($0.89)
- 1/2 batch of parsley, chopped ($0.90)
- 1 stick of chorizo ($3.34)
- salt and pepper to taste ($0.05)

The bulk of the cost here was the chorizo, which wasn't even regular chorizo but the chorizo seasoned salami from the salami trio gift pack at Trader Joe's. We just didn't have time to go out looking for actual Spanish chorizo and went with that instead. No idea how that would have impacted the cost if we did go looking for it.

The steps to make the salad were:

- heat olive oil in small pan and then add mushrooms, sauté until most of the water has released
- add red onions to pan with mushrooms for a minute
- remove mushrooms and onions to a small bowl and add red wine vinegar, chill for 10-20 minutes (I left it in there until everything else was done and it was time to mix the salad)
- in a large bowl, mix the white beans with the onion/mushroom mixture, parsley, some olive oil, salt and pepper, and the sliced chorizo, and season to taste

I had forgotten that the original recipe called for the onions to be mixed with the vinegar, and I had added them to the pan with the mushrooms to try and reduce the sharpness. I don't know how differently this would have come out if I did that instead but the onions would probably be stronger.

The salad came out pretty well and was A's favorite part of the meal, mostly because the chorizo had a lot of flavor. I thought that the salad tasted better the next day when I ate the leftovers for lunch, after the salad had a chance to chill in the fridge overnight. When eating it that way, the chorizo was actually my least favorite part of it, as I thought the salad was better on its own once the ingredients had sat together for hours.

Espinaca con Garbanzos

I have no idea what recipe or what place inspired me to make espinaca con garbanzos the first time, since I've been making this here and there ever since I first started cooking more a few years ago. Wherever it came from (and there are probably many similar ones to it online), it's one of my favorites.

The ingredients for this were:

- olive oil ($0.20)
- 1 onion, chopped ($0.50)
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped ($0.10)
- salt and pepper ($0.05)
- smoked paprika (to taste, but a generous amount) (still using one we got for free, which will skew the totals but is truthful)
- 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained ($0.75)
- 1 bag of baby spinach ($1.99)

The cost for the spinach and chickpeas portion of dinner was $3.59 (since the smoked paprika had no cost), which when combined with the patatas bravas ($3.69) and bean and chorizo salad ($7.34), leads to a grand total for dinner of $14.62. Not the cheapest dinner but there was a little bit of chickpeas, a small bowl of salad, and a large bowl of potatoes left over, so the price covered a couple of lunches too.

The steps were:

- heat olive oil over medium heat
- add onions and garlic and cook until softened
- add chickpeas, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika, combine well, and cook for a few minutes
- push the chickpea mixture to the edge of the pan and add the baby spinach until the spinach leaves are wilted, mixing wilted spinach in to the chickpea mixture (maybe it's because we were using a different pan but it took a lot longer to do this than I remembered and I had to do the spinach in batches)

I tried the chickpeas prior to mixing in the spinach and thought the dish had much more flavor than the finished product, which was odd. There definitely was enough smoked paprika pre-spinach and there wasn't that much spinach. Even if it wasn't as strong in flavor as I was expecting, I still really like this dish and it was my favorite part of dinner.

It was a fun and tasty tapas night, even if we didn't eat until very late because of how much work it was. I tend to rationalize our tapas nights saying that we're eating at a very Spanish time of 10 or 11 pm, but that's never really the plan. At least it was good!

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