Vacations inspire me to make something new or recreate something local or traditional we really liked while on vacation. Hang on, you say, you were in Scotland. What does Scotland have to do with a Spanish dish? Well, the Scottish dish I am definitely going to make (Cullen skink) isn’t one for our summer, fits more with fall or winter here. However there is a connection between our trip to Scotland and Spain. Let me explain.
Our stay in Edinburgh overlapped with a friend of ours who happened to be there for a wedding. We got together and during conversation he asked about ideas for places he and his brother could go for a long weekend. His brother lives in Belgium so they needed a relatively short flight to a city with lots to offer, and preferably warm. Almost simultaneously Cheryl and I said ‘Barcelona.’ He said that sounded good and would discuss with his brother. We parted ways, he to the wedding and then France for the Euros (a good Irish lad supporting the boys in green) and us to the Highlands.
His brother must have approved because towards the end of the following week they were posting to Facebook from Barcelona. And it looked like our good friend really enjoyed himself. As we knew he would! Anyway it’s no secret we love that city, I may have mentioned Barcelona is the only place from our honeymoon we’ve gone back to (2x so far!).
Anyway, all that talk about Spain and Barcelona and seeing him have such a good time in his first trip there got us reminiscing and wanting Spanish food. Unfortunately we were out of bomba rice for paella so I thumbed through that new book I have Charcuteria, and came across a recipe for beans with ham. Simple enough and I did have a key ingredient, a chunk of home cured ham I made over the winter which was vacuum sealed.
Habas con jamon calls for fava beans (the habas part) but I couldn’t find any so I used some lupini beans instead. I wish I had the fava beans but these worked fine. They’re preserved in a brine and since the habas recipe was in the section titled Conservas y Confits (making preserved things, like beans) I felt these would be an acceptable substitution. They were.
This is such a comfort food dish! First, you can’t go wrong with ham mixed in with anything. But the combinations are awesome together. Nice salty ham, firm and earthy beans, sweetness from the soffrito, and subtle layer of mint (fresh from the garden!). The original recipe didn’t call for any lemon but as we were eating Cheryl said it seemed like it needed something. A little acid did the trick. Cut through some of the concentrated soffrito. A good addition.
I think as we get further into summer this would be phenomenal when you can get your hands on really fresh fava beans and tomatoes. It’s a great summer side dish served warm or cool.
Habas con Jamon (4-6 servings) from Charcuteria
- 3 shallots, minced
- 2 plum tomatoes, de-seeded and diced
- Olive oil
- 1 ½ C fava beans (or lupini beans or other broad bean), peeled and cooked or preserved
- 4 oz cubed jamon (or whatever cured pork you fancy)
- 1 leek, cleaned and sliced
- 5 mint sprigs
- Salt and pepper
- Wedge of lemon (optional)
Coat the bottom of a large pan with olive oil and heat up over medium-high heat on the stove. When the oil is hot add the tomatoes and shallots. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 30 minutes, stirring and scraping every so often. You’ll end up with a very concentrated soffrito. Remove from pan and set aside. Drain off any excess oil remaining.
Return pan to stove and turn heat back up. Add a little olive oil and heat. Put the soffrito back in the pan and add the jamon. Cook for 4-5 minutes.
Add the sliced leeks and cook until softened.
Next, stir in the beans and cook until they are heated.
Finally, stir in the sprigs of mint until they wilt. Remove from heat and allow the mint to steep for 10 minutes. (good luck waiting that long!) Season with salt and pepper, squeeze some lemon juice over the beans and stir in.