Tag Archives: chorizo

Sugar Snap Peas: Five Italian and Spanish Style Recipes You’ll Love

30 Jun

It is the season for sugar snap peas (Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon), and we have had a wonderful harvest of sugar snaps in our yard, and we expect more from Restoration Farm, our CSA.

Almost too ready for picking

Almost too ready for picking

So today I made a special sweet pea dish — Pasta with Chorizo and Peas – for my seven-year-old swee’pea who is in charge of peas at home, from planting to watering to harvesting (he gets assistance in stringing the poles as our peas need strings to climb on with their delicate tendrils. We buy sugar snap seeds from Botanical Interests).

Someone eats a lot of peas as he is harvesting. Someone's mother doesn't mind at all.

Someone eats a lot of peas as he is harvesting. Someone’s mother doesn’t mind at all.

He collected peas between World Cup matches today and then we spent a companionable half hour shelling the peas and eating many of them as we watched Costa Rica play Greece in the World Cup and I put the water to boil. At halftime I made dinner to eat during the second half.

Quite a haul! We can freeze what we don't use. But we'll use it all before that happens.

Quite a haul! We can freeze what we don’t use. But we’ll use it all before that happens.

So the following Pasta with Chorizo and Peas  is a new recipe and below that you’ll find links to some of our perennial favorites: Spanish tortillas and Italian pastas. This recipe uses only the peas, but the pods are edible. I sliced the pea pods into my salad, as he doesn’t like those and I find them wonderfully crunchy and sweet.

Rich flavor that doesn't overwhelm the peas.

Rich flavor that doesn’t overwhelm the peas.

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Garbanzos con chorizo (Chick peas and chorizo – the last of the hearty winter meals?)

1 May

Spring is definitely here – rain, fresh green smells, vegetable garden popping up all lively and bright, lily of the valley spreading lush fragrance low to the ground, lilacs towering above and spreading their own heady perfume, birds and bees doing their spring dances, kids going mental.

But there is still a chill in the air, especially at night, and there is certainly time for one or two more heavy comfort meals.

One of my favorite is Garbanzos con chorizo – chick peas or ceci with Spanish hot sausage. I don’t make it that often, because the little guy won’t eat garbanzos (yet), but after the crazed month or two I’ve just put behind me, I deserved to slather on some favorites.

Here it is – simple as pie and tasty as all get out.

Garbanzos con chorizo 

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

3-4 Tbs sofrito, if using prepared, 3-4 ice cubes worth if using homemade frozen (see Sofrito for Freezing) or follow the recipe below for making fresh sofrito to order*

3-4 oz Spanish-style spicy chorizo sausage (you may substitute hot dry Italian sausage, or one of those hot supermarket brands that comes fully cooked), peeled and chopped into 1/4” pieces.

2 Tbs tomato paste

15 oz can diced tomato

1 Tbs cumin

1 Tbs dried oregano

¼-1/2 tsp salt (to taste)

1 pint soaked garbanzos (or 2 15 oz cans, rinsed and drained)

Heat oil in a large saucepan at medium-high until fragrant. Stir in onions to coat, then lower heat and sauté, about five minutes. Add garlic and sofrito and cook until fragrant. Add chorizo and heat until it begins to release its oil, then immediately add tomato, cumin, oregano, salt to taste and garbanzos. Cook at a lively simmer for 20 minutes and serve over rice.

*Here is a quick sofrito recipe that will work for this dish if you are actually making it to order. If using this sofrito recipe, do not use additional onion. The garlic stays the same.


  1. 3 Tbs olive oil
  2. 3 oz ham steak or jamón para cocinar, diced (optional in this dish)
  3. 1 oz bacon, chopped rustically (optional in this dish)
  4. 1 green cooking pepper (cubanelle or Italian pepper), diced
  5. 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  6. 6 culantro leaves (recao), minced
  7. 4 sweet small peppers called ají dulce in Hispanic markets (do NOT purchase Jamaican ají or scotch bonnet! They look the same but the Jamaican/scotch bonnet are HABANEROS, deadly hot and inappropriate for this dish!) seeded and minced
  8. ½ Cup cilantro leaves, minced

Heat olive oil in whichever sauce pan you are making your dish in. Add ham and bacon, if using; cook until done (bacon can be crisp) then add other ingredients and saute until soft and fragrant.

Alubias con Chorizo (Cannellini with Hot Spanish Sausage)

19 Feb

When I first moved to Puerto Rico as a grown-up and got a job in San Juan, I lived several weeks with my godparents (from Confirmation, if you’re Catholic) in Ocean Park, in their art-filled, book-lined, sun-drenched house on the beach. When I found an apartment, I didn’t go far; for the next six years — más o menos — I lived around the corner, five houses away, and I spent almost as many dinnertimes there as in my own little house.

Carmen and I assembled lots of meals together, inventing pasta dishes, reviving old family recipes, experimenting with local ingredients from the farmer’s market, trying out exotic ingredients from whatever new specialty shop opened nearby and talking, talking, talking, to a soundtrack of the classical music station (Schumann, Schubert, Bach, come to mind) or old boleros from a more refined past (Trío Los Panchos, Rafael Hernández).

Those are some of my favorite memories from that time. So it’s always a pleasure to visit Carmen and Efrén when we are back in Puerto Rico — now I bring my son! — and, of course, get back into the kitchen. Over the holidays, Leandro, my parents and I stayed a few delicious days with them in Ocean Park (my parents and they have been friends for about 50 years now!), including visits from Carmen’s best friend, the noted playwright and director, Myrna Casas, and Baby Llenza, another notable chef!

Carmen made this as part of one lovely dinner and I couldn’t wait to try it myself. She recently sent me the recipe via email. It really is better with giant Spanish-style alubias in a jar, but cannellini from a can are a very tasty substitute if that’s what you have on hand. Just cook gently so they don’t fall apart!

Carmen’s Alubias con Chorizo

2-3 Tbs olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped fine

3 (or more!) cloves garlic, minced

15 oz can crushed tomatoes, drained (reserve liquid) or 1 ripe tomato, chopped or 2 Tbs tomato paste (you can add a handful of chopped grape tomatoes, if you’ve got, to freshen the flavor)

4 oz spicy Spanish chorizo (the hard, continental kind, similar to Italian hot dry sausage), peeled and chopped

19 oz jar of alubias from Viter – do NOT drain (or, 28 oz can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed)

Heat the oil in a pot until fragrant. Add onions and garlic, reduce to medium and soften. Add tomato and cook down a few minutes. Add chorizo and sauté briefly, just until it is releasing its oil. Add beans and cook until flavors incorporate (canned cannellini will soften very quickly, so do not overcook!). Use reserved tomato water, or just water, for a more liquid pot of beans.

According to Carmen, the Spanish eat this with sautéed Swiss Chard. In Puerto Rico, we accompany it with rice.

Broccoli and Chorizo Pasta with Cheese

18 Apr

creamy, crunchy, stodgy, zesty

I needed some comfort food with attitude (and no trips to the grocery store).

Some of you will remember in the early days of this blog that Leandro and I were in the emergency room twice within a month’s time to get him stitched up. That stress is in the past, but the part about having to pay the equivalent of an entire paycheck to cover what the health insurance doesn’t is a stress that is very much in the present.

So, I was in the mood for something cozy but kicking, something that didn’t call for a whole lot of work or special ingredients. And ideally, it would be something I could also put in Leandro’s lunch box the next day. The solution — after a quick rummage in the fridge — was this invention: Broccoli and chorizo pasta with cheese. I used catanisella pasta (a new shape for me) figuring Leandro would have fun with its long, skinny, tubiness and because I wanted something that the cheese would cling to rather than clog up (think of macaroni shells scooping up clumps of cheese). The broccoli crunch balanced the creaminess and the spice of the chorizo cut through any density. All in all a great success that did the job!

Broccoli and chorizo pasta with cheese (serves 4)

1 lb pasta – preferably medium short

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

½ yellow onion, peeled and chopped (about 1/2 cup)

8 oz hot (picante) Spanish-style chorizo (the cured, ready-to-eat kind…NOT Latin American chorizo, which must be cooked through. You may substitute dry Italian sausage or andouille sausage), peeled and sliced into ¼ inch rounds

8 – 16 oz broccoli crowns, washed and separated (blanched if desired. I usually use a strainer and dip them in the boiling pasta water for a minute until they turn bright green)

½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Gran Padano cheese

Boil pasta according to package directions (dipping broccoli into the boiling water to blanche). Reserve a ¼ cup of the pasta water.

Heat olive oil at medium-high in a heavy-bottomed  saucepan until fragrant. Add onion, stir to coat, then lower heat to medium and allow to become translucent and soft (at least five minutes). Add chorizo, stirring occasionally, until it begins to release its reddish oil. Add broccoli, stir to coat and cook until beginning to wilt (2 minutes or so). Add ¼ cup reserved pasta water and simmer until slightly thickened. Stir in cheese, add to pasta and serve. (It is doubtful that you will need to add salt, as the chorizo and the cheese will provide plenty!)

Tapas 4: Clams and Chorizo: keeping the salt at bay (haha!)

27 Dec

Clams and chorizo are delicious, gorgeous, easy  and lightning-fast to make, but be forewarned: the brine in the clams is so strong that the dish often turns out too, too salty.

I think I am going to start throwing peeled raw potatoes into the brine to soak up some of the salt; the flavors of this dish also harmonize with garbanzos (chick peas/ceci) so I may try adding a low-sodium can of those.  Kate from England suggests soaking clams in milk, but I usually use the clams in the shell…Any other suggestions are welcome!

Have a lot of good crusty bread available

Clams & Chorizo

3 TBs olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

¼ lb chorizo, peeled and coarsely chopped

¾ Cup dry white wine

2 lbs small clams in shells (or cockles or a mix) scrubbed

1 tsp parsley, chopped

Make sure you have tongs handy!

In a large pot, heat oil then briefly sauté garlic (do not brown). Add chorizo and sauté briefly, just until the oil begins to color. Add wine and bring to a boil. (This is where I think I’ll add garbanzos or potatoes in the future) Add clams and cover, then after a couple of minutes, open pot and begin to pull clams out with tongs as they open (they will get chewy if allowed to overcook even by seconds!). Put them in a serving dish with sides. If using potatoes, cook at low heat until they become tender. Stir parsley into the cooking liquid then pour over clams and serve (shells on) with crusty bread.

Party Snacks: Tortilla Torcal, a Spanish egg frittata with chorizo and ham

21 Dec

Today I lived my owned sour grapes fable. You remember: the Aesop story about the fox who can’t reach a bunch of grapes that are taunting him from a high vine. In the end, the fox gives up and consoles himself by saying, “Those grapes were probably sour anyway.”

Well, the tortilla flipper is probably overrated anyway.

Like the fox, I won’t find out whether this wondrous invention is as tasty as it looked on the online pages of a Spanish product vendor. It looks like two skillets hinged together that make flipping a classic Spanish tortilla (savory stovetop egg pie) easy. Like, you won’t burn your forearms as you upturn the eight not-quite-cooked eggs onto a plate and then slide the tortilla back into the skillet and you won’t make a goeey, cementy, eggy mess as the uncooked bits goop out of the skillet…

Nah, what would be the fun of that? Why take a muscle-y, down and dirty, daredevil sacrifice for the sake of food and turn it into a clinical, tidy, bloodless, soul-less operation?

Never. Not even if I could spare $50 to purchase another piece of kitchen equipment I have no room for.

So, screw the tortilla flipper. Or unscrew it. Or unhinge it. Forget it.

The tortilla itself, however, is a worthwhile enterprise. This is a case where the “easy” in “Hot, Cheap & Easy” is relative. A relative lie, actually. Making a Spanish tortilla takes time, patience, some strength and a set of stones. However, when you make a good one, your guests will lavish you with praise, something I am quite fond of.

And since I can make it the night before an event, it’s handy and portable.

The classic tortilla española is potato and egg, but this one, inspired by Penelope Casas’ recipe for Tortilla Torcal in her book Tapas makes it a mightier, spicier dish that really dresses up a tapas night.

Tortilla con chorizo y petit pois

1/2 cup olive oil

3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

8-10 eggs

1/4 tsp salt (optional, reduce or leave out if the ham is very salty)

1 small onion, chopped fine

1/4 lb. spicy Spanish-style chorizo sausage, peeled and diced

1/4 Cup ham steak or other cured/fully cooked ham, diced

1/4 Cup frozen peas, cooked


Heat the oil in a skillet and add potatoes, lower heat and cook potatoes slowly, turning frequently. When they start to brown, they are more than done. In a large bowl, beat the eggs lightly with the salt. Drain the potatoes, reserving the oil. Add the potatoes to the egg mixture and mix just barely (this gets the temperatures even).

Heat one tablespoon of oil to the skillet and sauté the onion until tender. Add the chorizo and the ham and cook just until the chorizo begins to release its oil (it will get bitter if allowed to cook more). Add the peas and cook for another few minutes. Stir very gently into the eggs and let sit for at least five minutes. Meanwhile, make sure your skillet (9” or 10” made of a material that is not too heavy!) is really clean, then heat two more tablespoons of oil and pour in the egg mixture. When you see the egg begin to cook on the edges, lower heat to medium low and cover. Allow to cook for ten minutes, until the center is thickened.

This is where it gets challenging. Get a plate that will fit smoothly to the edges of the skillet. The plate should be flat-surfaced, with no changes in levels. Take the skillet to the sink, put the plate on top and, with your hand firmly on the plate, turn the skillet over so the tortilla turns onto the plate (this is where the goo can scald your forearm, if you are unlucky or not careful). Then slide the tortilla back into the skillet, wet side down. Put back on heat and cover, continuing to cook until done (another five minutes or so). In the meantime, wash and dry the plate. When the tortilla is done, flip it back onto the plate and behold its golden loveliness.  

Allow to cool (I actually refrigerate overnight after it cools, wrapping in foil or plastic wrap or both). Serve at room temperature, or warm; it’s good at any temperature. I usually cut into squares for a tapas party and stick the squares with toothpicks to get people started.

 NB: Penelope Casas and other Spaniards prefer their tortillas a bit juicy inside. I find that Americans are too concerned about salmonella for that (and probably rightly so), so I cook it through. If you know your egg source, you should be fine cooking it rare!

Also, I really, truly thought the tortilla flipper was cool, but I think I am way cooler for doing it Old School. Sour grapes? You make the call.

A Big Old Hurry Results in Revelations (and better flavor!)

31 Oct

I am making lentil soup today; it’s cheap and easy and ever-so-homey. It’s what I serve to my parents whenever they’ve come back from a long journey (which is ridiculously often). It’s hearty enough and yet light enough to make you feel relaxed and at home. It smells very good, bubbling away at the stove; every time I make it it comes out slightly different, depending on my mood and the available ingredients, but it is always good.

While I was chopping, in my usual hurry, trying to get it done before my son woke up from his nap (mission accomplished and he is STILL SLEEPING!), I started to think about the old days when I had hours to cook something. I entertained myself by chopping up all the ingredients like on a cooking show, arraying them before me in little bowls and then dropping them into my pots and pans as needed. Very satisfying.

These days, I chop as I go and drop things in the pot as soon as I get them cut up, more or less in the order I intended. If I am lucky. It’s not as aesthetic, but it has helped me in one way. I get those onions in there first, then when they are coated and sizzling in the hot oil, I turn the heat right down so they won’t burn as I chop something else. Lo and behold, those onions get a chance to get soft and sweet and caramelly on the low heat, and I actually get better flavor out of them. In the old days, I would’ve sauteed them quickly and then dropped my next precious bowl of something in right away. Not anymore!

I include the recipe here, because lentil soup needs to be in your repertory. It is very flexible; you can skip the sausage or use a different kind (adjusting seasonings to harmonize), you can use additional veg (like celery); or leftover parsley from another dish.

It requires a bit of chopping, but no babysitting while it is simmering. Lentils are cheap and wholesome and don’t require pre-soaking. It refrigerates and re-heats really well (freezing, not so much), so I pack it into our lunch boxes as well as eating it on the night it is made. Serves four big appetites as a main course.

Lentil Soup

2-3 Tbs olive oil

1 baseball size onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced or diced to fingernail size (approx 1 Cup)

1 Cup chorizo (Spanish dry hot sausage), peeled and sliced into 1/4-1/2 inch rounds (I use Palacios Hot)

1 Cup dry lentils, rinsed, picked through and drained

2 medium potatoes, peeled (if you like) and chopped into 1.2 inch cubes (approx. 2 Cups)

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (you may use water as well)

1 tsp each – ground cumin, turmeric and oregano OR 1 tsp each – oregano and marjoram OR Tbs dry Italian herbs

Heat oil until it runs quickly and is fragrant. Add onions and stir to coat. After a minute, reduce heat to low. After five minutes start adding, garlic, then carrots, then chorizo. When chorizo begins to release its color, , stir in lentils, potatoes, broth and water. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for 20 minutes or until lentils and vegetables are tender, adding water a cup at a time, if desired. Add spices at the end and salt to taste. Serve as soup with crusty bread, or over rice.

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