Saveur (March 2015)
Bittens, we're going to Spain!
We are so excited! Neither of us has been before, but Spain has long been at the top of our list of destinations to visit. We're hitting three main areas: Barcelona, the Basque Coast (and the Rioja wine region), and Seville.
We'll also be meeting up for part of the time with our friends Trevor and Owen, who moved to Europe last fall. You've met Trevor and Owen on the blog before: We had them over for Spiced Lentils after they got back from their honeymoon, and we once discovered the joys of Pickled Shrimp at their house on a hot, hot summer night. (And they've been at every Fakesgiving we've had, except the most recent one, when Europe stole them away from us.)
Anyway, España. We're really looking forward to it.
Got any recommendations of restaurants, neighborhoods, sites to see? Please pass them along to us! You can leave a comment here or send us an email.
With Spain on the brain, we were immediately drawn to this dish of Charred Cauliflower and Shishito Peppers with Picada Sauce.
Let's talk about these ingredients.
This dish includes a picada, which is a pesto-meets-salsa-verde-esque sauce from Catalonia in northeastern Spain (where Barcelona is). Per Saveur, the picada here is made with parsley, almonds, oil and a surprise ingredient -- chocolate. We were intrigued to see how those ingredients would play together.
The answer? They're great, actually. The picada is extremely tasty. (For what it's worth, we found that we couldn't really discern the taste of the chocolate, which is probably for the best.)
But we didn't totally love this dish as a whole. The cauliflower is good and the shishito peppers are delicious. But they're hard to eat together. (Plus, since the shishitos are cooked whole here, they're a little unwieldy. This is a dish to be eaten with a fork and knife, so do you cut the peppers up? Pick them up, eat them whole and spit out the stems?) We love shishito peppers, and may try growing them this summer, but we could do without them in this dish.
And as a whole, the dish is very oily. Too oily for us. If we make this again, we'd cut the amount of garlic oil mixed in with the picada by at least half.
At the end of the day, this dish was pretty good. The picada in particular was really excellent (yes, with the chocolate!).
So here's our suggestion: Make this dish, cut down the amount of oil by half, and omit the shishito peppers. We think you'll love it.
We really liked this dish, but mostly, it just whetted our appetites for eating our way through Spain in a few weeks.
If you have recommendations, please share them! We'd love to hear them.
Picada is a Catalan-style pesto, made here with almonds, parsley, and chocolate—a surprise ingredient that adds a pleasing touch of bitterness to this delicious side dish.
1 head cauliflower, trimmed, halved, and cut into 1½" wedges
2 tbsp. plus 1 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 cup canola oil, for frying
12 shishito peppers
½ cup whole almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
1 cup plus 1 tbsp. roughly chopped parsley
1 tbsp. finely grated dark chocolate
2 tsp. sherry
Heat oven broiler. Arrange cauliflower in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush both sides with 2 tbsp. olive oil and season with salt and pepper; broil, flipping once, until charred and tender, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat remaining olive oil and the garlic in a 12" skillet over medium. Cook until garlic is golden, 4–6 minutes; transfer to a bowl and let cool. Wipe skillet clean and heat canola oil over medium-high; fry peppers until blistered and slightly crisp, 4–6 minutes. Transfer peppers to paper towels to drain; season with salt. Stir almonds, 1 cup parsley, the chocolate, sherry, salt, and pepper into reserved garlic oil; spread onto a serving platter. Top with cauliflower; garnish with fried peppers and remaining parsley.