Spain – Empanada and Xató salad with Romesco sauce

What’s cooking in Spain?

Yoli’s Empanada and Xatό salad with Romesco sauce

Yolanda is my friend, and I know that she is an excellent cook because I have been lucky to eat some of her dishes already. She is originally from Tarragona, just south of Barcelona, and met her Swiss husband of Spanish descent during his holiday in Spain when she was 15 years old. It was the beginning of back and forth travels between the two countries, until she finally moved to Switzerland when she was 20. They now have three children, and Yolanda wants to transmit culture from her home country to them. Their children learn the Spanish language, and they often eat Spanish dishes at home.

Yolanda makes delicious Paellas and Empanadas, and a salad with the traditional Romesco sauce which has its origin in her home town!

Empanada recipe:

An Empanada is a delicious stuffed pastry. The good thing is that it is easy to make and, that you can stuff it with anything you like! In Spain, you will find Empanadas in most bakeries, a bit like you would find slices of a Quiche in France. They often sell it as smaller Empanadas, but for a family, you can also easily make one big Empanada like Yolanda does! Here is an easy to make tuna Empanada recipe!

Ingredients (for 4-6 persons):

  • 500 gr of flour
  • 1 portion of baker yeast
  • 170 ml of warm water
  • 100 ml of white wine
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Paprika powder
  • 3 bell peppers
  • 3 onions
  • 2 cans of tuna
  • 1 egg

Tip : if you are in a hurry, then you can replace the home made dough with 2 rolls of ready to use pastry dough.

How to prepare :

  • Cut your bell peppers and onions into slices, no need to cut it too small.
  • Put a large amount of olive oil (about 80 ml) in a pot and start frying the bell peppers and onions. If you make your own homemade dough like we did, you will use the olive oil later to give more taste to the dough. If you bought the dough, then no need to use this much oil.
  • Put the flour in your mixer.
  • Put the baker yeast in a glass with 170 ml of warm water and stir it. Leave it to rest, and after a few minutes add it to the flour in the mixer.
  • Add the white wine to the flour as well.
  • Add a bit of salt to the bell peppers and the onions.
  • When the bell peppers and onions have become nice and soft, you can take them off the heat and, with the use of a strainer, you take off the olive oil you fried them in.
  • You then add the olive oil to the flour, in our case this was 60ml.
  • Add a teaspoon of salt, and a teaspoon of paprika powder to the flour.
  • Start mixing the dough, if it’s too dry you add a bit of water and wine.
  • When it’s all mixed you cover the dough with a kitchen towel and you leave it to rise.
  • While the dough rises, you put the bell peppers and onions on the heat again, and add the tuna and a bit of pepper to taste.
  • Fry it for a few minutes and then add the tomato sauce, bit by bit so that it does not become too liquid.
  • Add a teaspoon of paprika powder and your stuffing is ready. You can now put it aside until you are ready to stuff your Empanada.
  • When the dough has risen you form a ball and cut it in half.
  • You first roll out the first half and make in about the size of your oven tray. Yolanda has cut baking paper in the size of her oven tray which she uses to make sure she has the right size. She cuts off the parts that are too large and keeps it aside for decoration later on.
  • Put the first rolled out dough on baking paper on your oven plate and start rolling out the second half of the dough.
  • When your dough is ready, you add your stuffing on top of the dough on your oven plate, and when you’re done, you add the other rolled out dough part on top.
  • With the leftover dough you cut lines and decorate your Empanada with it.
  • Then you start closing up your Empanada on the sides with your fingers.
  • Batter up the egg and spread it over the dough.
  • Delicately make a few small holes in the dough before putting it in the oven.
  • Bake your Empanada at 200 degrees until it is nicely browned.

Xató salad with Romesco sauce recipe:

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Romesco sauce is traditionally eaten with calçots, a sort of spring onion that looks a bit like leek, but which is very difficult to find in Switzerland. In some places, like in London, calçots have become available and popular during spring, but here, it cannot yet be bought. Romesco sauce can also be used for a dish with fish in the oven, or with the salad we will make.

Cooking time: grill ingredients for 40 minutes in the oven, after that approximately 30 minutes of preparation

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  • Salad (frisée, or scarole)
  • 1 jar of big pieces of tuna

For the Romesco sauce:

  • 1 ñora, a typical dried pepper from Spain, available in France in big supermarkets for instance, but if you cannot find these then replace with any other dried pepper
  • 2 slices of toast (two days old bread)
  • 1 whole garlic
  • 4 tomatoes
  • Handful of almonds
  • Handful of hazelnuts
  • Olive oil
  • Vinegar (preferably Xeres vinegar)

How to prepare:

  • Start by putting your ñora or dried pepper in a bowl with warm water
  • Pre-heat your oven at 220 degrees
  • Cut the top of the tomatoes off, and make a cross on the bottom part with a knife, which will make peeling the skin off easier later on

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  • Put the tomatoes, garlic, toast, almonds and hazelnuts, with a bit of olive oil on top in the oven for 40 minutes
  • Check sometimes during those 40 minutes: if you see that the bread, or the hazelnuts and almonds go too quick in the oven, you take them out before, and put the rest back in. You can also turn the bread once if it is already dark brown grilled on one side.
  • With a teaspoon peel out the inside (the flesh) of the ñora and put this in a separate bowl

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  • After 40 minutes take your plate out of the stove and with a fork and knife, peel off the skin of the tomatoes and take off a bit of the tomato seeds inside. Don’t worry to try to take all the seeds out, just globally will be fine.
  • Put the tomatoes and the bread into the bowl with the ñora and push a bit with a spoon to break the bread before putting it in the mixer.
  • Cut the garlic in half and put the inside parts one by one in your mixer by pushing them out. They will be very soft and easy to push out.

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  • Put everything in your mixer, including the almonds and hazelnuts.
  • add 220 ml of olive oil
  • and add 50 ml of Xeres vinegar
  • Mix it all up
  • According to your own taste add some salt

Just wait for the Romesco sauce to cool off and you can then serve it on the salad with the tuna.

Yolanda says that in Spain they also sell the ñoras in powder form, so for those going to Spain on a holiday, have a look in the local supermarket!