A MENESTRA IS A BRAISE OF VEGETABLES IN A JAMÓN-INFUSED TOMATO SAUCE. IN SPAIN IT IS EATEN AS A FIRST COURSE, PERHAPS BEFORE SOME MEAT. MENESTRAS ARE ALWAYS A SEASONAL DISH AND ARE MADE WITH WHATEVER VEGETABLES ARE PLENTIFUL, SO DON’T BE LIMITED TO THE ONES IN THIS RECIPE. FOR SOME VEGETABLES THE COOKING TIMES MAY SEEM QUITE LONG — DON’T WORRY, THEY ARE CORRECT. THAT’S SIMPLY THE NATURE OF SOME SPANISH COOKING (I BELIEVE WE HAVE SWUNG THE OTHER WAY AND NOW ACTUALLY UNDERCOOK OUR VEGETABLES!) THE TANG OF THE TOMATO SAUCE BRINGS EVERYTHING TOGETHER, MARRYING THE EARTHY FLAVOUR OF THE VEGETABLES WITH THE RICHNESS OF THE OIL AND JAMÓN.
Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil. Cook the vegetables separately, beginning with the artichokes for 15 minutes, then the potato, brussels sprouts, carrots and turnips for 10 minutes each, and 5 minutes for the beans. Remove the vegetables each time with a slotted spoon, drain well and spread out on a tray to cool.
Meanwhile, place the tomatoes, garlic cloves and 1 teaspoon of the sea salt in a food processor and blend until roughly puréed.
Place the chopped jamón fat and
Stir the melted jamón fat, remaining sea salt and the chopped parsley into the vegetables. Place on a warm serving dish, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve hot, with crusty bread.
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