Sometimes when you travel there is just one outstanding meal that stays with you & lingers in your memory. That was the case for me when we traveled to Spain last year & I tasted for the first time la menestra de verduras, a traditional Spainish vegtable stew. In a little resturant in a dusty, sun drenched town where clearly only locals were dinning, I was served a steaming bowl of beautiful green vegetables in a rich garlicky broth infused with olive oil. Not really a soup there was just enough broth to soak up into thick slices of crusty country bread.
Although there are many versions of this dish, some of the main ingredients seem to consistently be artichokes, asparagus, green beans, peas &/or fava beans & whatever leafy greens are in season. And sometimes potatoes.
Because the late spring, early summer vegtables have been so especially beautiful & abundant this year, I have been enjoying trying out my own interpretations of
menestra de verduras.
The hardest part is probably preparing the artichokes. Once that is done it is just a matter of cooking & assembling the vegtables. On line you can find any number of Spanish speaking videos demonstrating how to make this recipe. It seems that they all cook each vegtable separately.
Being American, however, it seemed much more efficient to me to cook everything together in one pot. I started with the potatoes, if using. I tried it with & without potatoes & both versions are good. Then adding slowly each new ingredient as it needs time to cook. The peas & asparagus being last.
I sliced my artichokes thin & sautéed them with garlic in extra virgin olive oil until they were slightly browned & tender. I removed them & then sautéed the spinach (or Swiss chard is good too) also with garlic. Drain the boiled vegtables saving the broth. Then combine all into one large pan with a bit more olive oil, salt & pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice & just enough of the broth to moisten to taste.
It is clear from the many different versions of this recipe that this is a dish that any cook can make their own. If you are a person who loves your greens the way I do, then it is definitely a dish you would want to try.
This video is just one of many that I found on the Internet. In this one they emulsify the spinach to add to the broth & in others they thicken the broth with flour . I prefer a thinner broth myself. And in yet another video they fried their artichokes & garnished the top of each plate with them. I might try that next time.
Happy cooking & enjoy your greens!