THERE IS A SIMPLE TECHNIQUE USED RIGHT ACROSS SPAIN CALLED REFRITO. IT IS BASICALLY HEATING A FLAVOURSOME INGREDIENT LIKE GARLIC IN SOME OIL, THEN POURING THE OIL OVER A DISH JUST BEFORE IT IS SERVED. (IN ONE VISIT TO A BUDGET GRILLED FISH HOUSE IN THE BASQUE COUNTRY, I SUSPECT THEY WERE USING A GARLIC REFRITO TO COVER UP SOME RATHER SMELLY OLD FISH.) THIS IS A VERY SIMPLE VEGETABLE DISH THAT IS DRESSED WITH A SLIGHTLY UNUSUAL REFRITO. IN THIS VERSION, SMOKED SWEET PAPRIKA IS ADDED TO OLIVE OIL AND QUICKLY HEATED BUT NOT FRIED, AS FRYING WOULD ALTER THE TASTE OF THE PIMENTÓN. THE HEATING RELEASES FLAVOUR AND COLOUR INTO THE OIL, WHICH IS ALLOWED TO COOL SLIGHTLY IN A JUG; THE PAPRIKA THEN SINKS TO THE BOTTOM OF THE JUG AND THE FLAVOURED OIL IS SPOONED OFF THE TOP, LEAVING THE POWDER TO SETTLE AND BE DISCARDED. RATHER CLEVER I THINK.
Bring two large saucepans of salted water to the boil. Add the artichokes to one and the beans to the other. When the water returns to the boil, cook the vegetables for 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain well, place together on a warm serving plate and season to taste with sea salt flakes.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic cloves and cook for 30–60 seconds, or until light golden but not brown. Remove from the heat and allow the oil to stand for 2–3 minutes, or until slightly cooled. Stir the paprika into the oil, then pour into a heatproof jug and leave to stand for 1 minute, or until the paprika settles to the bottom.
Spoon the warm oil over the warm vegetables, being careful not to disturb the layer of settled paprika. Serve immediately.
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