27 March 2010

Pancetta and roasted Tomatoes

Tomatoes, what would we do without them? In Andalucia almost every tapas dish is garnished with tomato, something cool and sweet to calm down a picante chorizo, a main influence in salads, salsa's and dips and absolutely terrific roasted. Roasted tomatoes go a long way to making that exceptional "Escalivada" or bbq roasted veg - if you haven't tried making your own yet then do so this summer, so much better than chargrilled attempts you can buy in jars and much more rustic and natural. See how to make escalivada here, all you need are tomatoes, onions, red peppers, some olive oil and a newspaper.

Our main man in Orce village who goes by the name of "Juan-Jo" (short for Juan Jose) is the village green grocer. He does get a lot of his stuff delivered to what is probably Andalucia's smallest and most busiest shop but when the weather picks up his garden springs to life - this is when you can find a whole range of fruit and veg, ugly as sin but incredibly flavoursome. 

Hats off to Juan-Jo as he has probably grown the ugliest tomatoes ever seen in Spain, big ripe beef tomatoes split to bursting point, small little ugly critters boasting a sweetness that goes great with ham or cured lomo tenderloin and standard tomatoes that, well in reality would never make the grade in any supermarket. Do we mind any of this? of course not, the uglier the better, its all about flavour.

Easy Tapas: Place halved tomatoes on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and season with pepper - bake on a high heat for 30 - 45 minutes. 5 minutes before tomatoes are ready heat some olive oil in a pan and fry up some cured pancetta until crispy. Tear up some spinach and serve the hot tomatoes and pancetta on top, pur over olive oil from fried pancetta so spinach wilts and season with a little pepper. 

...and thats the job done, the sweetness of the tomatoes goes great with the slight saltiness of the pancetta, combined with spinach (or you could use a basic mixed salad) makes a tasty summer lunch. Drinks for this one? A tall beer or inexpensive red depending on your mood.

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