So, what did you make for dinner last night?
Tasked with developing a recipe using chorizo (smoked or sweet, fresh or cured -- I got to choose!), my mind immediately went to my most favorite dish at my favorite tapas bar -- one of a few restaurants in Connecticut that I actually lust for, even living in NYC.
I'm sure some of you Connecticut residents can guess where I'm talking about. Yup. Barcelona Wine Bar and Restaurant.
Their Chorizo with Sweet and Sour Figs is to die for. While the last time I was there, I actually (gasp!) didn't order the chorizo, which they serve hot in a terra cotta cazuela with lots of chorizo/fig-infused goodness (figs are probably one of my favorite fruits, other than apples), it will always have a spot in my heart. I know, I know. Didn't order your favorite you say? But, it was a chance to explore and find new favorites -- namely the morcilla with preserved lemon (DO NOT pass on this one!), braised endive, crispy pork, and so much more.
So, when it came to my own chorizo recipe, I took inspiration from Barcelona's dish. Sweet and syrupy tender figs, with a splash of something acidic. For me, tender figs and slightly spicy chorizo begs for tender caramelized onions, and just-cooked French green lentils.
While I served this stew-salad over a bed of spinach last night, I could easily eat this alone (did tonight, with crisp carrots and a glass of my new favorite vin rouge from Marquis Philips. I mean, when 12 bottles arrive at your door, don't you have to taste-test?) or over hearty brown rice.
When I think of chorizo, there is one dish that always comes to mind (and never fails to make me hungry): Chorizo with Sweet and Sour Figs, a warm tapas served at Barcelona Wine Bar restaurant in South Norwalk, Conn. The smoky flavor from the pork sausage combined with the rich caramelization of the braised figs is incredibly satisfying (and perfect to eat with the restaurant’s phenomenal bread).
Inspired by Barcelona’s chorizo tapas, I wanted to create a hearty salad-like dish that I could eat alone or atop a bed of greens. I added cooked French green lentils for added fiber and heft, and chose fresh chorizo rather than smoked, cured as served at the restaurant.
If you don’t have chorizo, you can use your favorite sausage as a substitute.
1 cup French green lentils (Lentilles du Puy)
1 1/2 cups dried Calimyrna figs, stems removed and quartered
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
4 links fresh chorizo, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons water
Paprika, to taste
Cumin, to taste
Freshly ground pepper
Baby spinach, for serving (optional)
In a small saucepan, combine the lentils with 3 cups water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. When ready, drain and keep warm.
Place quartered figs in a small cast-iron skillet and cover halfway with water. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce to a low simmer. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and gently cook until the figs are tender and the liquid is syrupy.
In a large saucepan, heat oil. Add garlic and onion, season with salt, and cook until the onions are lightly golden and caramelized. Add the onions to the figs and set aside.
In the same saucepan, add the fresh chorizo sausage and sauté over high heat until just cooked through. Add the figs, onions, and lentils. Add 2 tablespoons of water to the skillet the figs were cooked in and bring to a boil. Reduce by half, deglazing the pan to dissolve all syrupy bits. Add the liquid to the lentils, season with paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve over a bed of spinach, if desired.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes