It’s finally spring!!! Spring means picnics and picnics mean deliciousness out in the sunshine!!! In this first installation of allkindsofdelicous in way too long, I’ll be describing picnic fare extraordinaire! But first, a little set-up, we’ll call it an amuse bouche for the imagination. Yesterday afternoon marked the official opening of picnic season here in Madrid and the first installation of what I will call the “International Picnic Brigade.” The sun was shining, the wine flowing and the company a treat.
We set up camp in a shady spot in Las Vistillas, a lovely terraced park with views of the city and great people watching. After we laid out the food, my friend Giovanna said the only thing we were missing was musica, and sure enough a minute later, someone nearby picked up a guitar and played while his friends sang along.
In other news, all is well here in Madrid. I am continuing my struggle to help the people of Spain learn phrasal verbs and the second conditional. I’m also doing an internship at an NGO helping write evaluations of food security projects in Central America. Not a whole lot of news to share.
For the first picnic of the season, I decided to keep it simple and use my favorite spring ingredients. At this time of year I cook and eat asparagus like it's my job. Sometimes I have to fight the old ladies at the market for the best bunches, but it’s always worth it. I´m so mad at myself that last week when I was in Ronda (stunning little town in Andalucía) I didn’t buy several bunches of the wild asparagus a woman was selling from an overturned cardboard box. I´m still kicking myself for that lapse in judgment, but yes, the roasted potato salad with (grocery store) asparagus was a big hit as were the little morsels I call devilled eggs piquillo (classic Americana infused with a Spanish kick, chopped roasted peppers and a little smoked paprika!). A loaf of bread, some cured meat, a basket of strawberries and a carrot cake kept us munching well into the afternoon!
Roasted potato salad with asparagus and honey mustard
My new Columbian friend Ximena was smitten with the salad in part because she was happy to eat something with flavors other than the simple olive oil and salt that are the hallmarks of her husband’s Basque standards! I’m always happy to undermine the Basques (mostly joking).
4 medium red potatoes cubed or large quantity of other waxy/new potatoes
3 or 4 cloves garlic roughly chopped (big pieces are less likely to burn…)
1 bunch asparagus cut up in good sized pieces
1 container cherry tomatoes, halved
Handful walnuts, roughly chopped
1 heaping tablespoon seedy mustard
1 tablespoon honey
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry or balsamic vinegar
***Combine ingredients in a small bowl or shake shake shake in a little jar
- Toss potatoes with garlic, olive oil and little salt, pepper and garlic powder in a large baking sheet and cook at 375/190 (look at me, all metric) for about 45 minutes, until tender and golden
- While potatoes cook, toss asparagus pieces with lemon juice salt and pepper and cook for about 7-10 minutes until just tender and bright green (be careful to not overcook them!!!!)
- Take out veggies and let cool a bit. Toss remaining ingredients with potatoes and asparagus with dressing and taste for salt pepper and brightness (if you sense a lack of brightness, my favorite culinary euphemism for acidic ingredients, just add a little lemon juice or more vinegar!)
Deviled eggs Piquillo
One of my favorite parts of living and cooking in Spain is using all the delicious Spanish ingredients in my own special ways. Piquillo peppers are one of my favourite items. They are bright red, fire-roasted peppers with a rich flavor that can only be described as peppery (in the sense of true to vegetable, not spicy, because spicy is definitely NOT a part of the Spanish canon!) If you don’t have piquillos, try other roasted peppers or anything brined, cured or roasted.
8 hard boiled eggs
2 teaspoons mustard
3 tablespoons mayo
3 tablespoon finely chopped piquillo peppers
½ teaspoon Spanish paprika
A sprinkle of dried rosemary
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper
1. Cut eggs in half long ways.
2. Scoop out the yolk
3. Smash up the yolk with all the other stuff (taste for salt and pepper)
4. Spoon the yolk mixture back into the whites
5. Arrange on lettuce leaves (not necessary, but looks really pretty)