A taste of Spain… in Ontario

It’s summer in our Ontario greenhouses with tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers ready to harvest. These are the essential ingredients for this Spanish menu from Foodland Ontario. You can take a quick trip to Spain for dinner while enjoying the taste of fresh and locally grown food from Ontario.

Romesco Sauce

Originally a sauce for a fish stew, this roasted mixture of tomatoes, peppers and garlic can be used as a sauce for fish, chicken or vegetables. Its bright colour and smoky flavour make it a popular dinnertime addition. If possible, make ahead to allow the flavours to mellow.

2 tomatoes
2 sweet red peppers
1 head garlic
2 tbsp (25 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 slice day old crusty bread
1/2 cup (125 mL) slivered almonds
2 tbsp (25 mL) sherry wine vinegar or red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each, salt and smoked paprika
pinch cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 400˚F (200˚C). Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Using sharp knife, core tomatoes, cut in half and squeeze out seeds. Arrange tomato halves on prepared baking sheet. Cut pepper in half and remove stem and seeds. Arrange cut side down on baking sheet. Cut top off garlic to expose cloves. Arrange on baking sheet. Drizzle tomatoes, peppers and garlic with olive oil. Bake about 30 minutes or until skins split and garlic is soft. Place baking sheet on rack until vegetables are cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, cut crusts from bread and cut into cubes. Place bread cubes and almonds on another baking sheet and place in oven about five minutes. Slip off and discard skins from tomatoes and peppers. Squeeze garlic from its skin. Coarsely chop vegetables and add to food processor with squeezed garlic cloves, bread cubes and almonds, vinegar, salt, paprika and cayenne. Process sauce until almost smooth yet stiff with extra texture from almonds. Taste. If you like, add more vinegar for a zippier flavour.

Basque Chicken Stew

Serve this hearty chicken stew with a green salad, mashed potatoes and crusty bread to soak up the flavourful juices.

2 tomatoes
1 lb (500 g) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 tbsp (25 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup (125 mL) Serrano ham or prosciutto, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt and smoked paprika
1/4 tsp (1 mL) black pepper

Cut tomatoes in half crosswise and squeeze out seeds. Chop tomatoes. Trim excess fat from chicken thighs and cut in half. In Dutch oven or large saucepan, heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil over medium heat; cook chicken in batches until lightly brown, two to three minutes per side. Transfer to plate. Add remaining oil. Add onion and pepper; cook until softened two to three minutes. Add ham, garlic, salt, paprika and pepper. Cook one minute. Stir in tomatoes. Nestle chicken in sauce and bring to simmer until juices run clear when chicken is pierced, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves four.

Gazpacho Salad

The flavours of the classic Spanish chilled soup are captured in this rustic salad. Serve with any grilled meat, fish or poultry.
2-3 slices of crusty day old bread

2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp (25 mL) extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp (25 mL) sherry wine vinegar
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
pinch each, pepper and crumbled rosemary

3 medium tomatoes
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
3 green onions, sliced

Preheat oven to 350˚F (180˚C). Arrange bread cubes in single layer on baking sheet and toast until golden eight to 10 minutes. Whisk together garlic, sherry wine vinegar, salt, pepper and rosemary. Cut tomatoes in half crosswise; squeeze out the seeds and chop coarsely. Add to mixing bowl with cucumber, pepper, onions and croutons. Pour dressing over; toss well but gently. Transfer to serving bowl or platter. Let stand 5 minutes to soften croutons before serving. Serves four.

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