March Madness

March is well & truly in full swing, and it happens to be my favourite month of the year! My birthday month which I have always affectionately dubbed “Maripalooza” consists of my birthday weekend in Madrid, best friends visiting from Germany the weekend after, then my entire family coming over to visit for 2 weeks!

Busy fun times ahead. So I will be trying to post as much as I can. These next two dishes are an ode to one of my many global homes, España. The first one I am tackling is this delicious recipe I was inspired by from Anna Jones’ “A Modern Way To Eat

A gorgeous Catalan romesco sauce which can be used for EVERYTHING is mixed in with pearl barley for a deliciously hearty dish, that when paired with a great wine and some tapas bits makes me feel like I am right back in Spain, taking in life slowly & enjoying every minute.

pearl barley romesco on a bed of grilled leeks

served with potato & pepper croquettes & marinated olives

FullSizeRender (48)

Serves: 4-6 with some romesco sauce leftover

Ingredients: Romesco Sauce

  • 100g blanched almonds
  • 50g hazelnuts
  • olive oil
  • 2 slices good stale white bread (about 40g) torn into chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled & finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 x 220g jar of roasted red peppers, drained
  • 6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 small dried chilli, crumbled or a pinch of chilli flakes
  • a generous pinch of saffron strands
  • 1 Tbsp tomato purée
  • sea salt & freshly ground pepper


  • 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 12 whole baby leeks (or just wash, trim, halve lengthways regular leeks & cut into 3 inch pieces)
  • 200g pearl barley
  • a few sprigs fresh parsley, leaves picked
  • potato & pepper croquettes
  • favourite marinated olives

Method: Sauce

  1. Scatter the nuts on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until golden. While they are roasting, heat a little olive oil in a pan & fry the bread until golden brown all over. Add the garlic & the smoked paprika & cook for a further minute then remove from the heat.
  2. Leaving the oven on, transfer the nuts & toasted bread to a food processor. Add the peppers & blitz until you have a coarse paste – you still want a bit of texture.
  3. Tip the entire lot into a mixing bowl, stir in the extra virgin olive oil, sherry vinegar, crumbled chilli/dried chilli flakes, saffron, & tomato purée. Season to taste with salt & pepper and mix well, adjusting the flavours if need be. Romesco is all about a balance of punchy flavours. Too thick? Add a little water.Too sweet? Add a bit more vinegar. Too sharp? Add a little oil. Leave this to one side to mix & mingle & mellow.

Method: Foundation

  1. Next put the leeks on a roasting tray & drizzle with some olive oil, grate over the zest of the limon & season with salt & pepper. Roast in the oven for about 20-25 minutes.
  2. Cook the pearl barley according to the packet. Soft but still with a gummy bite.
  3. Drain the pearl barley & mix with 3/4 of the romesco sauce & parsley.
  4. Serve with the leeks first then pile on the romesco barley.
  5. Serve with your favourite tapas (this time I used potato & pepper croquettes & olives)

pearl barley romesco leeks FullSizeRender (48) pearl barley romesco


One thought on “March Madness

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