Pan y aceite + what’s been cooking

I hate that the main meal takes place in mid-afternoon. It messes with my psyche and with the overall productivity of my day, not to mention that the warmest, sunniest part of the day is lost to eating. The horror! With our morning school obligations ending between noon and 2:30pm and private classes starting between 4 and 4:30pm, we have, reluctantly, adapted to eating the largest meal of the day between 2:30 and 4:30 pm. A coffee is always in order to keep from succumbing to the dreaded siesta, but we’ve gotten pretty swift at the quick meal prep time, quick clean-up routine.

Lunch in Spain comes at the time of the day when I would normally be thinking about getting off work and heading home to prepare dinner. To keep our stomachs from growling audibly in class and to keep from becoming weak with hunger fatigue, a substantial breakfast is a must and even then, a snack at 11am is highly recommended. Oatmeal and cereal are always stick to your ribs options, but we have added a new recipe to the rotation. One of our favorite breakfasts/snacks in Spain is a traditional Spanish breakfast, the tostada. It is simple to prepare and the sum of its parts are much tastier than you’d imagine. First, you’ll need an artisan loaf of bread, preferably a French style baguette. Break off a healthy portion and then slice it lengthwise to reveal the soft, chewy, vulnerable, white crumb of the inside of the bread.


Pop both pieces into an oven heated to 400 degrees and let it toast for 5-7 minutes.  Turn on the broil setting and let the bread turn a golden brown. Once out of the oven, drizzle a rich, fruity olive oil onto the toast. Sprinkle just a pinch of sea salt on top. If you used a French baguette, the oil will pool in the holes that riddle the bread, creating green golden mirrors of flavor. Prepared in this manner, you’ll have a surprisingly satisfying breakfast or mid-afternoon snack. You could also add a thin slice of ripe tomato and a sprinkle of pepper or add a layer of tuna paté after the oil, then the tomato and pepper for a light lunch. Of course, the end product depends on the quality of the ingredients you use. The better the ingredients, the better your tostada will be.

Some other great main meals we’ve had lately include, for your Meatless Monday inspiration in the New Year: baked pasta, carrot-ginger soup, pasta with eggplanttomato and bread soup, red kidney bean curry, sweet potato and black bean tacos and red lentil-lemon-spiked soup.  Spoon food is perfect for January and also means only one pot gets dirty, so I’m all for it. Plus, soup is generally good to the waistline, which I’m grateful for after holidays full of extra time for me to cook and eat.  And, if you’re interested, a recap of some of our favorite holiday sweet treats: chocolate blocks, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cheesecake, raisin-walnut no knead bread, chocolate cake and a simple loaf cake.


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