Menestra recipe - seasonal vegetable stew

Recipe by Neil Morris - 13 August 2012

menestra recipe

Region: Navarra

Preparation: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

Oven temp: cook on the hob

Difficulty: easy

Serves: 4

In the northern Spanish regions, stews are a popular way of combing the fresh local ingredients in a quick and simple way to produce a variety of tasty dishes. This menestra recipe is popular in Navarra but can be found across the north of Spain in various different guises; menestra gallega and menestra palentina are just two examples.

The basic principle of this light and modern version of the dish is the combination of fresh spring vegetables with the flavours of fried bacon, onion and white wine. The dish relies on cooking each vegetable for the correct time so they are all just tender. The method of pureeing the onion with alcohol can be found in other Spanish dishes and really adds a flavour punch to this menestra recipe.

Do not be put off by the apparent simplicity of this healthy dish; when executed correctly it really is a winner! Once perfected it can be adapted to suit whatever vegetables are in season.

Shopping list

  • olive oil (aceite de oliva)
  • 2 garlic cloves (dientes de ajo)
  • 1 large onions (cebollas)
  • 50g pancetta threads (pancetta)
  • 100ml white cooking wine (vino blanco)
  • 100g fine green beans (judias verdes)
  • 100g whole baby carrots (zanahorias)
  • 100g baby sweet corn (minimazorcas de maíz)
  • 50g sugarsnap peas (guisantes, tirabeque)
  • 2 or 3 new potatoes (patatas nuevas)
  • 150-200ml chicken stock (caldo de pollo)
  • 4 eggs (huevos)
  • sweet paprika (pimienton dulce)
  • fresh parsley (perejil)
  • salt (sal)
  • freshly ground black pepper (pimienta recién molida negro)

Method

Finely chop the bacon/pancetta and fry in a tablespoon of olive oil for about five minutes until the fat starts to dissolve; remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the finely chopped onion to the pancetta fat and cook gently until soft then add the chopped garlic and cook for a further two minutes.

Transfer the onion to a food processor and puree with a splash of white wine and a tablespoon of chopped parsley. Add a little more wine if necessary to achieve a smooth puree effect.

Meanwhile cook the new potatoes in a pan of just-boiling salted water, after about five minutes add the carrots and cook for a further 10 minutes or until just tender. Also put the eggs in pan of cold water and then bring to the boil. Boil for six minutes then place in a bowl of cold water.

Return the reserved pancetta to the pan that was used to cook the onions along with the chicken stock and then add the trimmed green beans, peas and sweet corn and simmer until the vegetables are just tender but retain a slight crunch. Then add the rest of the wine, the onion puree and the drained potatoes and carrots. Reduce the heat right down and mix everything together gently for a minute or so and then season to taste.

Next, remove the shells from the eggs then, using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to warmed plates and spoon over some of the cooking liquid. Finally, halve the eggs and place on top of the vegetables and garnish with some chopped parsley, a dusting of paprika and some black pepper.

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