Sunday, 6 May 2012

Potty for Potaje ?

There are many Spanish dishes that I’ve fallen in love with since living in Spain, and Spanish potaje is one of my favourites.

Potage has its origins in the medieval cuisine of Northern France (from Old French pottage; "potted dish") European cottage gardens often contained a variety of crops grown together. These were called potage gardens by the French, as the harvest from that garden was used to make potage.

Potaje refers to the base of the stew which usually is always made with water, onion, garlic and garbanzos (chickpeas).  Often this dish is called “potaje de garbanzos” or even “potaje de vigilia” (meaning potaje of abstinence or vigil) as it is typically made without meat and during lent to be eaten on Fridays – a time when the Catholics do not eat meat. The Spanish potaje is varied, depending on the region, so there are different versions of this soup all over Spain. Chorizo,(paprika pork sausage),Morcilla (black pudding), lentils and Bacalao (salted cod) are all typical ingredients used in it.
It’s a hardy, healthy dish that is especially perfect for the cold days of winter (and apparently the cold, early days of Spring as well!). Even better, like most all stews, it keeps well and tastes more delicious with each day!

 Potaje de garbanzos y Espinacas
Chickpea and Spinach soup

250 grams of dried chickpeas
1 onion, spiked with 1 bay leaf and 2 cloves.
2 carrots, peeled.
500 grams of baby spinach.
1 onion, finely chopped.
2 tablespoons of olive oil.
1 teaspoon mild paprika.
2 slices of white bread.
4 eggs. (optional)
Salt and pepper.

Soak the chickpeas overnight in plenty of water. On the next day add some salt, the spiked onion and the carrots to the soaking water. Pour on enough water to cover all the ingredients. Bring to a boil and leave to simmer for 40 minutes.

Sweat the onion and garlic in the olive oil. Sprinkle on the paprika add the pre-washed spinach and cook for a short time. Remove the onion and carrots from the chickpeas and take out the cloves and bay leaf. Mash the carrots and onion in a mortar with the white bread.

Combine with the chickpeas and add the spinach mixture. Continue to cook for 10-15 minutes and season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide the soup between four oven safe dishes. If you fancy the egg version, break an egg into each soup and leave to set in a preheated oven at 200 celsius.

If you are planning a casual gathering, it also works well served in small bowls as a tapas.

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