Chorizo & Vegetable Paella

Finally moved in to my new house and my new kitchen is twice the size, so I can’t wait to get cooking. Finding the time however, with a long list of jobs to be done, is another thing – boxes to be unpacked, pictures to be hung, curtains put up and internet set up. I wander from room to room and the list grows, no one can find any of their possessions so the house rings out with cries of “Where is my swimming costume, rugby boots or Ballet shoes” and even simple everyday tasks seem to take twice as long.

Still, everybody still needs feeding and hopefully some warm, nourishing food will calm the fraying nerves. I opted for a Small veg box (less roots) with red spring onions, sweet potatoes, french beans, savoy cabbage, red pepper and sweetcorn and set about cooking some quick and easy meals to feed the whole family.

First up a Chorizo and Vegetable Paella which is a really adaptable recipe and can be vegetarian too if you leave out the chorizo but I have to say, I prefer mine with at least some meat or fish. It is lovely to throw in some mussels or prawns or some chicken, whatever takes your fancy but it is a great use up of vegetables too – onions, peppers, any beans, I used French but you could use runner beans, sugar snap peas or course the classic peas.

In my time-saving, quick and easy mentality that I am trying to adopt at present, I chose ready diced Iberico Chorizo which saved me loads of time. And I am not going to even pretend that I made chicken stock – for the time being stock cubes will do!

Paella Cooking

Chorizo & Vegetable Paella
Serves 3
Olive oil, preferably Spanish
1 onion, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
120g chorizo, ready diced
2 red pepper, cut in half, deseeded and cut into thin slices widthways
2 cube chicken stock
2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1 pinch of Saffron
200 g paella rice
100 g French beans, cut into 1” pieces
15 g fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 lemon

Put a glug of oil into a large heavy bottomed shallow casserole or paella pan on a medium heat, add the onion and fry for around 10 minutes, stirring regularly until completely soft. Add the chorizo and fry to release the oil. Next add the garlic and red peppers and fry for a further 5 minutes. Meanwhile dissolve the stock cubes in 1 litre of boiling water and add the saffron. Next add your rice to the peppers with a good pinch of salt and the smoked paprika. Pour in ¾ of the stock (you will probably need all of it, but just in case.) Let it bubble away gently, stirring from time to time to avoid sticking. Top up with more stock if it becomes dry and the rice is still raw. While the paella is cooking, boil the beans for a few minutes until cooked and then refresh. After 30 minutes, check the rice is tender and cook a little longer if needed. Season to perfection, stir in the beans and then chop the parsley leaves, scatter them over the paella, and serve with lemon wedges on the side for squeezing over.

Red Pepper

A Sort of Tonno e Faggioli

I love this Italian salad which I first came across years ago when I worked as a waitress at Pizza Express in Wimbledon Village. Nobody ever ordered it, or probably noticed it was even on the menu but we were trained to make it along with the other offerings of salads on offer, being the huge choice of either mozzarella and tomato or mixed salad.
The classic version of this salad, literally meaning tuna and beans, is made with Cannellini beans but I thought it would work well with the lovely Borlotti beans which I got this week from Riverford. I also added a little balsamic vinegar which goes particularly well with Borlotti beans and seemed in keeping with the Italian theme. Finally, I added some cherry tomatoes because I had some in my box and I just thought they might be nice. They say that if you change more than two ingredients in a recipe it is no longer original (this is how chefs get around plagiarism on recipes which are quite blatantly copied) so in actual fact it is not exactly a Tonno e Faggioli any more, apart from the fact that it is still quite plainly tuna and beans.

Tonno e Faggioli

Tonno e Faggioli
See how to cook the beans on my last post of Pasta e Faggioli
2 cups cooked and drained Borlotti beans
1 can tuna steak, drained of oil
1 punnet of cherry tomatoes
Half a red onion, peeled and very finely sliced
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Handful of flat leafed parsley, leaves picked from the stems

Make the dressing by mixing the mustard and vinegar in a bowl. Season well and whisk in the olive oil. It should emulsify quite easily. Add the onion and mix through and then the beans. Cut the tomatoes in half and add along with the tuna and parsley. Check seasoning and serve immediately.

Red Onions

Pasta e Faggioli

When I saw the fresh Borlotti beans on Riverford’s website, I just had to have some. I had difficulty with growing mine this year on the allotment. Too cold, too wet, whatever! It was it was a great disappointment, especially after a bumper harvest last year. Never mind, Riverford sent me a huge, lovely bag full. They are so much nicer fresh than dried or tinned. All fat and plump and creamy inside. I decided to use them for two recipes this week. The first is a classic Pasta e Faggioli which literally means Pasta and Beans – it always sounds so much better in another language. This is a real peasant dish with inexpensive, rustic ingredients but a double helping of carbohydrate to keep you fuller, longer.

Borlotti Beans in a pan

How to cook Fresh Borlotti Beans
store
Keep in their paper bag in the fridge until you are ready to cook them. They should keep for at least a week.

prep
Split open the pods to get to the beans inside. No need to soak before cooking.

boil simply
Put the shelled beans in a pan with just enough cold water to cover. Add a clove or two of peeled garlic as sprig of rosemary (tightly tied in string or an elastic band so that the flavour escapes but not the leaves) and maybe a fresh red chilli. Boil for 20-30 mins until soft. Add a little more water if needed. Just before the end of the cooking time, add a good glug of olive oil. mush up the garlic cloves and season well.

Pasta e Fagioli in a bowl

Pasta e Faggioli
There is no need to add the bacon if you are vegetarian or the parmesan.
Extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
150g smoked bacon, thinly diced
2 medium onions, finely diced
2 medium carrots, finely diced
2 medium ribs celery, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp tomato puree
Chicken stock or good quality chicken stock cubes
1 cup of cooked Borlotti beans
1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary, very finely chopped
3/4 cup dried pasta, such as macaroni or ditalini
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the pancetta and cook until crispy and the fat has rendered, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, carrot, celery and rosemary and increase the heat to medium; cook, stirring frequently, until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. Add the tomato puree and cook for a minute more. Add a litre of chicken stock and bring to the boil. Season well with salt and pepper. Add the dried pasta to the pot and stir to incorporate. Turn the heat up to a gentle boil and cook until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite, anywhere from 8-12 minutes depending on the type of pasta you used. Add the cooked beans and check seasoning. Drizzle each portion with a touch of extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with more cheese, if desired. I think the flavour gets better if you leave the soup for a while but it will keep drinking up the stock so you may need to let it down a bit again.

Borlotti beans in shell