The Epicurious app has successfully proven that the folks at Bon Appetit know what they’re doing when it comes to social media and iPhone apps. I find myself utilizing this app for recipes more than I do cookbooks, websites or- dare I say it- my own imagination. The other night I was inspired as I was browsing the “Spring Dinners” category and came across salmorejo– a cold Spanish soup made with tomatoes, almonds, garlic and breadcrumbs. I used to have this soup at least three times a week when I studied abroad, and even reading the name made my mouth begin to water. I decided to craft and entire Spanish meal around salmorejo and Epicurious. The supporting characters? “Arroz” con pollo (rice with chicken, similar in flavor to paella but way less complicated to make) and a light dessert of Valencia oranges with a spiced wine sauce. I put “arroz” in quotations because while the original recipe (and, of course, name) calls for long grain white rice, I wanted to try something healthier and heartier and substituted quinoa. I also used boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders instead of a whole chicken.
The salmorejo recipe was perfect. It took me right back to sitting outside at a Spanish cafe, sipping soup from a mug on a sunny Sevillano day. The recipe is so simple and satisfying, if you’re a fan of gazpacho I highly suggest you try this next time. The arroz con pollo made way more food than I expected, but I was perfectly okay with that, as it was so flavorful, healthful and authentic, I’m happy to have leftovers. I really enjoyed the quinoa substitute. The dessert was a great way to round off a healthy Spanish meal. It was refreshing yet packed with flavor, and while the original recipe didn’t call for it, I added mint and whipped cream, and wouldn’t have it any other way. So thank you, Epicurious, for letting me relive my semester abroad for the night. I was truly satisfied with my meal, would give it four forks, and would definitely make it again. Here are the recipes:
3 pounds ripe tomatoes
3 slices white or wheat bread, cubed and toasted
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
4 garlic gloves, roughly chopped
1 tsp Sherry or white wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Cut tomatoes in half and squeeze seeds and pulp into a strainer set over a large bowl. Press solids to release as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids, core and chop the tomatoes and add them to the liquid. Combine the toasted bread cubes, slivered almonds and garlic in a food processor. Blend until well chopped. Add tomatoes with liquid to blender in batches, pureeing until very smooth. Add Sherry vinegar and blend. With blender running, slowly add olive oil and puree until emulsified and frothy. Season with salt, pepper and more vinegar if necessary. Chill until cold and serve in mugs or tea cups. Optional: garnish with Serrano ham, a chopped hard boiled egg, slivered almonds, chopped pimiento-stuffed green olives or a drizzle of olive oil.
“ARROZ” CON POLLO
1 package boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders, roughly 10 pieces total
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp paprika
2 cups quinoa
1 1/4 cups dry white wine
1- 14 oz. can diced tomatoes including juice
1 3/4 cups low sodium chicken broth
3/4 tsp crumbled saffron threads
1 dried bay leaf
1 cup frozen peas (do not thaw)
1/2 pimiento-stuffed green olives, coarsely chopped
Pat chicken breast tenders dry and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet over moderately high heat and brown chicken, about 4 minutes per side and transfer to a plate. Don’t worry about the chicken being done, it will finish cooking later.
Add onion, bell pepper and salt to the pan. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add garlic, paprika and quinoa and stir for one minute. Add wine and boil about 2 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. Stir in tomatoes with juice, chicken broth, saffron and bay leaf. Add the chicken back to the skillet with any juices from the plate. Cook, covered, over low heat until chicken is cooked through and quinoa is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in olives and peas (the peas will thaw the second they hit the hot pan, which is why you don’t need to thaw them ahead of time). Discard bay leaf and serve.
ORANGES WITH SPICED WINE SAUCE
1 750-ml bottle dry red wine
1 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
3 tbsp chopped fresh mint
Bring wine, 1 cup sugar and cinnamon stick to a boil in a large saucepan. Boil until reduced to 1 cup, about 18 minutes. Remove sauce from pan and cool completely. Finely grate the peel of two oranges. Mix zest with 1 tablespoon sugar in a small bow and set aside. Peel all eight oranges and cut between the membranes to release the segments into a large bowl. Divide the oranges among 8 bowls. Drizzle the wine sauce and divide the mint leaves. Top with whipped cream, then sugared orange zest.