As the sun begins to warm up and the pasture gradually turns that wonderful colour between clover and emerald green, all those ingredients that spring provides begin to arrive. Now that the acorns have disappeared from the countryside and the pigs are feeding on this protein-laden grass as they trot through the pastures together with their younger companions who have yet to eat acorns, this is the time when asparagus, peas, beans, strawberries and many other fruits and vegetables are also emerging in the vegetable garden.
The colours of this season are delightful, bringing to mind the word “renaissance” and deserving of this name when we see the cherries and apricots hanging from the trees, and also the time when the first anchovies, fine tuna and the soft and delicious sole begin to appear.
I could start to name a multitude of seasonal products which are the ones to be eaten now because that is when their taste is at its fullest and we know that they have been grown and raised as they should be, naturally and without additives or preservatives, something that I love to emphasise about all of Joselito’s Iberian products because that is the philosophy they believe in.
With such a choice, I must confess that it is difficult to choose a dish to create a spring menu. But I confess that Iberico is a simple embellishment not only for vegetables that are now in play but also for some fruits, poultry and even fish.
To discuss spring foods today, I have chosen the crown of the crop: Gran Reserva ham which, as you can see in the photo, can be purchased in ready-to-eat packets. It will soon be time for chorizo, salchichon, coppa… and all of Joselito’s cold cuts that I know many of you enjoy at home.
A seasonal menu with spring foods accompanied by Joselito
So, in this very springtime proposal I suggest you start with a light and aromatic strawberry salad, trocadero lettuce, white cheese cubes, slices of Iberian ham and a walnut based vinaigrette with a little mustard. The combination of the slightly acid sweetness of these red fruits is an ideal pairing with our star of the show. But it doesn’t end there: olive oil is also a great friend of Iberian ham and nuts also combine to create an ideal and healthy sensation in the mouth to accompany it.
As a first course I opted for the peas that you see in the photo, cooked in the same way always used by my grandmother and which makes this recipe so special to me, where the pods were opened to release those delicious sweet jewels (those natural ones that later explode in your mouth and combine with the unctuous Iberian ham to make the perfect snack) and simply cooked in a sauté of onion, a touch of sweet paprika and a good slosh of white wine. In my version, the Iberian crowns the casserole on top so that it is tempered with its own heat (a great idea for any dish) and the egg is only cooked for 5 minutes, to keep the yolk a little creamy. The pea, as you already know, is one of the most conventional marriages when we think of ham, due to the contrast of its sweetness with the controlled saltiness of Joselito. From here we could go on to do the same with green beans or with the flourishing courgettes that will slowly emerge from the ground? Of course, we mustn’t forget about broad beans or artichokes that are wonderful with Iberian ham as they blend together to bring out the best in one another, resulting in a healthy yet delicious dish.
Another idea for a seasonal menu with spring products would be a few whitebait, coated with egg and flour, but with a slice of Iberian ham between two fish, like a sandwich. It is impressive how these oily fish bursting with omega 3 combine with the subtlety and roundness of Joselito.
Mackerel is another wonderful option to be prepared in the same way, but warm and just cured with a little sugar and salt, without adding anything other than a bit of chopped ham on top. Another suggestion, with a fun and healthy touch, would be to wrap breasts of quail in ham for roasting and then seasoning with a fresh mango dressing. Did you know that tropical fruit is also an ideal companion for today’s star ingredient? Here we have begun to fan the fire of your imagination but my advice is to take advantage of the season and go for 100% natural.