I first met my cousin Nancy when she visited the states back in the 80’s and we immediately connected. The next time she came over was September 10, 2001 and the next day the world as we knew it irretrievably changed. She spent a significant amount of time here on that trip. Time and tragedy cemented our bond.
Then in 2006 I serendipitously landed in Barcelona days before Nancy’s wedding to Carlos, a man she met and in a whirlwind courtship, married within 3 months. It was to be a small affair of only the absolute closest family members totaling around 15 people. I was honored when I was invited to go and woke up at dawn the day of the wedding, driving three hours at break-neck speed to reach a tiny chapel in Huerta de la Magdalena, a remote village with 126 inhabitants. I pulled up just in time to see the bride walk down the dirt road to the chapel on her father’s arm. It is one of my fondest wedding memories.
This recent visit, we gathered at Nancy and Carlos’ home for a family reunion and barbecue. To my delight I met my two new cousins, Zoe and Carlos Jr. It was love at first sight. Zoe and I hit it off like a house aflame and she sat by my side the entire time, drawing on my hands and charming me with her few words of English.
There’s nothing like family. I didn’t grow up with them but I love my Spanish cousins as much as the ones at home. The bond is instant and they are all familiar. Whether it’s because Nancy’s father Pepe (my second cousin) reminds me so much of my dad, or because when I walk around Nancy’s house I see that she and I have almost identical taste, there is a natural connection. We also share a passion for healthy eating and living.
Carlos and Nancy prepared a feast for our family reunion. Sitting around a large table on her patio, we passed around plates of salad, roasted vegetables and grilled meats. The highlight was a pan of roasted leeks served with Romanesco sauce, a light dipping sauce made with roasted peppers, tomatoes, garlic and nuts. Delicious! Theirs was the one truly healthy meal we had in Spain.
There are some people and places that make you feel welcome and at home no matter how much time has passed. Spain and my family there do that for me. I love them and look forward to my next visit over in 2016. I’ve decided to walk the Camino de Santiago for my 50th birthday followed by a big party near my grandmother’s village to celebrate. I can’t wait, although I am in no rush to turn 50 🙂
Happy Monday everyone! Wishing you a great week!
Roasted Leeks with Romanesco Sauce
This recipe is normally made with stale bread and roasted nuts. To up the nutritional ante, I left out the bread and soaked the nuts instead. It came out delicious! And can be used with all kinds of grilled vegetables and meats. Enjoy!
- Leeks: as many as you would like (assume at least 3 per person)
- 14 almonds, soaked for an hour or more
- 12 hazelnuts, soaked for an hour or more
- 1 small chili de arbol or any spicy chili pepper
- 2 medium ripe tomatoes (I used 1 medium and 1 cup grape tomatoes because I had them on hand)
- 1 cup roasted red pepper (you can use jarred, but make sure it is drained well)
- ½ cup olive oil plus extra to drizzle on leeks before roasting
- 6 cloves garlic
- Himalaya salt to taste
- Soak the almonds and the hazelnuts. Pre-heat oven to 350’
- Clean the leeks very well, making sure to get as much dirt from in-between the leaves as possible. If necessary, remove first layer of leaves to remove as much dirt as possible. Dry well and place on a baking sheet
- Drizzle olive oil over leeks and place on middle rack in hot oven. Roast for 30 minutes on one side. Turn over and roast another 10-15 minutes on other side. Roasting time will depend on size of leeks and proximity to heat. Small leeks will need less time, larger leeks, more. Another option is to grill them on a barbecue.
- While the leeks are roasting, drain the nuts and put in a food processor or VitaMix. Add the garlic, red peppers, chili, tomatoes, olive oil and about 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Blend well. Adjust salt to preference.
- When the leeks are done (slightly browned on each side and wilted) they are ready to serve.
- Remove the outer leaf from leek and dip into Romanesco sauce and enjoy!
Serves up to as many people as you provide leeks for. The recipe will make about 2 cups of sauce. Cover and refrigerate sauce.