There’s (almost) no such thing as a free lunch….

So, here we are, back in Spain. The sun is shining, the horrible hot wind we get in southern Spain (El Terral) has finally died down and we’ve caught our breath from the long drive.  We’re very lucky to have two lovely homes, but when you get back to a house that has been shut up for a few months, you find that the dust monsters have been to visit. We managed avoidance tactics for a few days with a combination of going out to catch up with people, and staying in feeling grumpy and full of cold (me)/Man Flu (Big Man) germs.

Finally the day came when we couldn’t ignore The Big Clean Up any more and today we made a start. Mrs and Mrs Mop began a vaguely systematic attack on the house and garden and, while there is still plenty more to be done, we felt satisfied that we deserved a nice lunch in the garden. Spring and autumn are perfect for outdoor lunchtime dining. Sometimes you get a lovely warm day in winter or a cool summer day which also permit al fresco lunches…but you definitely make the most of those perfect days.

In Spanish terms, it was almost dangerously vegetarian (well, apart from the seafood and salami). We didn’t worry, the village fiesta is upon us and we know we’ll be eating our own body weight in grilled meat and pinchitos (little kebabs) over the next few days. What did make us smile was the fact that pretty much everything we were eating had been gifted to us by kindly friends and family, or recycled from another meal. It’s good to be a frugal houseperson when the food is this good!

Lunch included:

Salmorejo (my very favourite cold soup) made from stale bread and tomatoes given to us by kindly brother-in-law. These are the ripe and ugly tomatoes which are used for soups and sauces

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Garnished with hard boiled eggs from kindly neighbour who adopted our chickens and jamon (bought from local butcher)

Salad made with leftover prawns and squid which had been barbecued the night before and avocados from kindly neighbour who also keeps us supplied with oranges later in the year to make marmalade.

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Tomato, mint and onion salad made with “tomates para picar” (tomatoes for chopping up!), again from kindly brother-in-law and mint from our garden.

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Salads dressed with our own olive oil and juice from our lemons

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Cheese and salchichon (salami). Salchichon given to us by kindly local bar owner as a welcome home present.

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Dessert was figs from our tree and apple sorbet made with apples from kindly cousin. Inspired by Rosemary’s ice cream making, I dug out my own ice-cream maker. To serve 2 people – 500g apples (peeled and cored), cooked with 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice then blended, cooled and churned in my machine. Maybe I should make more Apple Roses – I certainly have enough fruit!

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I drank a glass (or two) of Spanish wine, but Big Man was clearly feeling a bit nostalgic for England and opened a bottle of English beer.

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I thought we’d bought those beers with us as gifts for kindly friends and family. Ooops!

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PS. You know we hate waste here….the prawn shells are now bubbling away to make stock…maybe we’ll have an “arroz caldoso” in the next few days…

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Chicken, Egg and Bacon Salad

Shame there were no leftovers...

I´m not sure that this one can exactly count as a recipe, as it´s more a “chuck it together and enjoy” kind of dish.   Here in Spain the main meal of the day tends to be at lunch time.  Even in cities where people work in shops and offices, there is still a tradition to shut at 2pm and then re open at 5pm.  Lunch is taken very seriously!  The evening meal is rarely eaten before 10pm, which was a bit of a struggle for me at first, even though I usually ate at about 8pm in the UK.  Over time I´ve got used to it, especially now that I´ve realised that the evening meal is generally something very light.  A soup, or salad perhaps.

Of course, there are times when the evening meal is something more elaborate, but that tends to be related to an event, in which case you wouldn´t go to bed early (that´s around midnight here!) but more like somewhere between 3am and 7am…crazy hours.  Of course, that gives you time to digest dinner, dance it off, and perhaps even indulge in a breakfast of hot chocolate and churros before going to bed to sleep off the festivities.

Last night was just a regular night.  We fancied something light but filling, so I made one of our favourites –  Chicken, Egg and Bacon Salad.

Ingredients are rather approximate – use what you have to hand.  We used:

  • One lettuce heart roughly chopped
  • Two small-ish potatoes (boiled in their skins then peeled and roughly chopped)
  • Two hard boiled eggs, quartered
  • One large chicken breast, griddled
  • 4 rashers of streaky bacon (griddled)
  • 1 small packet of anchovies in olive oil
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Seasoning

I also made an extra dressing, which make enough for another salad

  • Half a small tub of natural yogurt (half a 125 tub)
  • The same quantity of mayonnaise
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • A tablespoon of milk
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

There´s no method to this, just combine the salad ingredients, season and dress very lightly with olive oil and lemon juice.  You can leave this out if you like lashings of the yogurt and mayonnaise dressing.  It´s entirely up to you.  For the dressing, just put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix until you´ve got a smooth, fairly runny sauce and drizzle over the salad.

Other ingredients which are good in this salad, which I guess has a touch of the “Chicken Caesar” about it, are avocado, croutons, grated hard cheese….go on, give it a go!