We decided to do a three-course meal from the amazing Ferran Adria Family Meal cookbook that Bailey bought me for Christmas. It really is a lovely and unusual book which contains the simple, hearty recipes that the staff at elBulli used to eat before dinner service. We decided to use 'Meal 4' which consisted of Beans with Clams for starter, Salt Cod and Vegetable Stew for main and Baked Apples for pudding. Nice and healthy easy Spanish food! The Beans with Clams was our favourite of the three - simple but packed with flavour and the clams were scrumptious!
As with many of the recipes in The Family Meal, it's a very simple dish but which requires you to make some basic Catalan / Spanish sauces and condiments in advance to go into the dish. We were really excited to make the Sofrito and Picada for the Beans with Clams that morning and the book does suggest you make plenty then freeze the leftovers. We had some Sofrito leftover which we used the next day to help make some mean Patatas Bravas.
For the Sofrito
1 garlic clove
2 tsp olive oil
1 pinch dried thyme
1 pinch dried rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 tbsp passata
1 pinch salt
For the Picada
0.5g saffron threads
25g fresh parsley
1 garlic clove
40ml olive oil
For the Beans with Clams
4 tsp Sofrito
600g cannellini beans
800ml fish stock
4 tsp Picada
Start by making the Sofrito and the Picada. For the Sofrito, put the garlic into a tall jar and blend it up. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the blended garlic, frying until brown.
Meanwhile, add the onion to the jar and also blend this. Warning, this kills your poor eyes! Add to the pan with the garlic.
Lower the heat, add the dried herbs and bayleaves and continue to fry, stirring as it cooks. Then, add four fifths of the tomatoes and cook for 30 minutes. Then, add the rest of the tomatoes and cook for another 30 minutes before seasoning with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl until you're making the soup.
Next make the Picada. Wrap the saffron threads in an alluminium foil parcel and toast in a hot frying pan for a few seconds, make sure they don't get burnt. Peel the garlic clove and put into a small bowl with the parsley. Add the toasted saffron threads and oil to the bowl. Using a hand blender, make a coarse paste before adding the hazelnuts and blend those up too.
We were instructed by the lovely guys at Out of the Blue where we bought our clams to keep the clams in the fridge wrapped up in a damp tea towel in ice water. One hour before you start to make your soup, put the clams in a bowl and cover with salted water. Apparently this makes them get rid of any sand. Clever!
In a large soup pan, heat the Sofrito over a medium heat.
Add the beans and fish stock to the pan and simmer for 15 minutes. Then, add the Picada.
Drain the clams and add to the broth, cooking for three minutes. Discard any clams that are shut. Season before serving. We served with some rustic wholemeal bread. Delish!