Chorizo & Manchego Salad

A winter warmer of a salad today, and one for the grown up folk really, unless your kids happen to eat salad which mine very definitely don’t …..at least not yet anyway. Philipe and I often have a late night supper salad once the kids are in bed, but we’re not talking a couple of lettuce leaves and a spray of dressing here, we’re usually talking pretty substantial. More often than not there’s something sausage like, a little cheese, definitely croutons and sometimes potatoes. A salad for the boys really.

Today’s chorizo salad is simply lots of lovely salad leaves (fresh from the garden in our case), chopped parsley, sliced red onion, some strips of pepper (or a few preserved peppers from a jar), cubes of Spanish Manchego (or any other flavoursome sheep’s milk cheese, but even a good goats cheese works well), fried chorizo slices and last but certainly not least lots of crunchy croutons fried in the remainder of the chorizo juices and a little hot smoked paprika to boot. Smoked paprika is the main spice in chorizo and is used widely in Spain, it gives a great little smokey spice kick to many a casserole or stew or even a crouton in this case!. The salad’s then simply tossed together in a sherry vinegar and olive oil dressing. Inarguably this is my favourite of our ‘winter’ salads.

Enough for two hungry grown ups:

120g chorizo, cut in 3 to 4mm slices, skin removed

a little olive oil

a small interesting lettuce, or a bag of lovely leaves, washed and torn

1 heaped tbsp of chopped parsley

1/4 of a red onion, finely sliced

1/2 a red pepper, cut into thin strips OR a few preserved peppers from a jar (available in good supermarkets or delis), sliced into strips

100g manchego cheese or any other sheeps or goats cheese, cut into 1cm cubes

40g stale white bread, cut into 2cm cubes

a generous pinch of hot smoked paprika (optional)

1 tbsp of sherry vinegar

3 tbsps of good quality olive oil

salt & pepper

Start with frying off the chorizo slices in a frying pan, adding just a little olive oil. Fry for about five minutes until golden on both sides, turning frequently.

Meanwhile prepare the salad. Place the lettuce, chopped parsley, red onion slices, red pepper strips and cheese cubes in a large salad bowl.

Make your dressing by briskly whisking together a tbsp of sherry vinegar with 3 tbsps of olive oil, a little salt and a generous grinding of black pepper.

Once your chorizo is cooked remove from the frying pan with a slotted spoon and drain on some kitchen roll. Add another splash of olive oil to the frying pan along with a pinch of salt, a generous pinch of hot smoked paprika (if using) and another of black pepper and place back on the heat. When the oil’s hot add the bread cubes and immediately turn to coat all sides. Continue to cook a little on all sides until the croutons are golden and crunchy, turning very regularly so as they don’t burn. The whole process will only take 2 to 3 minutes. When cooked drain on some more kitchen paper.

Add the slightly cooled chorizo to the salad and about half of the dressing. Toss the salad well, ensuring everything’s evenly coated. Taste and add more dressing to suit. Scatter the croutons on top and serve immediately.

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