Spanish Food 101: Ensaladas y Verduras, Le Secunda Parte

Read the first part of ensaladas y verduras here


Pimientos de Padrón

pimientos de padron

A more aggressive, quick and surprising thing to do with a pepper. Galician padrón peppers range from sweet to fiery, yet on the outside they all look the same (theme for another children’s book?).

Heat some olive oil until practically smoking. Throw in the pimientos. Fry until they blister. Take them off the heat. Throw on some salt and pepper. Mix. Put them on a plate. Serve immediately. Try not to scald your fingers. Play the low-stakes roulette of whether you’ll be getting a sweet or fiery pepper. Enjoy. Action! Action! Action! Peppers! Peppers! Peppers!

Pisto de Verduras


A Spanish equivalent of the more famous French ratatouille. I imagine a Pixar film called ¡Pisto! (it would need the exclamation point) wouldn’t have gone down so well – a lot can be said for branding, and this must be one of the few words that sounds better in Spanish than French. In my attempts to learn Spanish, I have concluded that French and English people have quite lazy mouths, while the Spanish and Italians have more active, passionate mouths, which is pleasing to the ear and a good mantra for the self.

“This is the vegetables incredible!”

is the verdict of the son, who said this as he scooped another spoonful onto his tostada.

A rustic Spanish dish served year-round either hot or cold. Fry up diced aubergine, courgette, onion, peppers, garlic and chopped onions, leave to simmer, season with oregano, salt, pepper, aceite and, optionally (an option that we did not go for), eggs ¡ya està! there you have it. Try this with or without the help of a cartoon rat, or, as we are in Spain we shall say mouse in homage to their Mexican hermano Speedy Gonzalez. ¡Pisto! con Speedy Gonzales: potential title of a kids’ cooking show.




Technically a Mexican dish, though the first time (that I know of) that I ate guacamole cooked by a Mexican person was in Spain. We spent a morning at the market in Carboneras picking out vegetables. The price difference between very good avocados and relatively standard avocados was around €3 per kilo. The Mexican’s girlfriend stole three oranges from a stall we had just spent €30 at and she seemed inordinately proud of this; it’s the little things in life, and those oranges tasted all the more sweet because of it even though we had ready access to free oranges on nearby trees.

The Mexican guacamole was the spiciest that I have ever tasted and, yes, the best. Whether I consider it the best because it was made by a Mexican person and subconsciously I think it should therefore be so or because it was actually the best I have ever tasted is an argument I’m not willing to have with myself. Chunky, spicy, and with 80% superior avocados, and the remaining 20% standard for bulk.

With the family, the avocado was very mild, smooth, somewhat sweet, and a rather vibrant pea green. Here lies the difference between a guacamole for a child’s palate and for a fiery adult’s.

To hell with the $10 Whole Foods guac. Guacamole tastes better homemade.


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