Last October, one of my good friends went to Spain, and I begged her, pleaded with her, and generally harassed her to bring me back some Spanish paprika.
Being a totally amazing person, she not only brought me some Spanish paprika, she brought me two different kinds: sweet and hot.
I had a feeling that Spanish paprika from Spain would taste different than the Spanish paprika available here in Canada. What I didn't know was just how different the Spanish stuff would be. It's so much more intense and smoky. Clearly I have not experienced paprika until this moment.
Over the holidays, we got together and used the paprika to cook up a paella (which tasted awesome, but had a problem with the rice being a little soggy).
But I haven't touched the stuff since... until Wednesday night.
Braised Spanish Lentils
(adapted from Mark Bittman)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and chopped (I used the last of my heirloom ones - a yellow variety)
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 stalk celery, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tbsp Spanish paprika
1 bay leaf
½ cup dry sherry
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup lentils (use brown, French or mixed - don't use all red, they have a tendency to fall apart), rinsed and picked over
kosher salt and pepper to taste
handful chopped parsley
1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add carrots, onions and celery and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.
2. Stir in garlic and paprika. Cook for one minute, or until fragrant. Then add in bay leaf, sherry, stock and lentils. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered for about 20 minutes, or until lentils are tender. You may need to add additional water or stock throughout the simmering time to keep lentils from getting too dry. Ultimately, you want the lentils to have a thick, soupy consistency.
3. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in parsley. Serve with a rice pilaf (basic recipe can be found here) seasoned with chopped Spanish olives and toasted almonds. Leftovers of both are great for lunch the following day!