I don’t think I’ve talked yet on my blog about my time in Spain (have I?). Junior year of college, I spent a semester in Granada, Spain. When I think back on it, I think it was this time living abroad which really lit my curiosity about people and culture, and fueled my desire to travel. What started as signing up for your run-of-the-mill college semester of study abroad turned into not only a love affair with Granada and the entire country, but left me with a big old bite from the travel bug.
I started to swoon the first time I smelled my host mom’s cooking in her teeny tiny Spanish kitchen. Even today, 9 years later, I can still take myself back to my old apartment building on Calle Angel Barrios. I’d walk home from school for lunch, open the big, heavy front door, and even in the foyer downstairs I could smell garlic and onions frying in olive oil. God, that olive oil. I swear it smells more pungent in Spain. Up the elevator, down the marble hallway, to the big wooden door, pull it open with the big brass handle. By the time I got to the door I could usually smell what Conchi was cooking that day: rice, chicken, fresh bread (an every day staple), ratatouille. I fell so hard in love with Conchi’s cooking that before I left to come back to the states, I had her dictate all her recipes to me and I wrote them down in a hand-written cookbook, which I gave to my mom for Christmas.
Sometimes, when I smell some pungent olive oil cooking, I get vivid flashbacks of being in Conchi’s kitchen. This happened to me the other day, and I suddenly got the taste of this almond sauce that Conchi used to make…but the details were escaping me. I texted my flatmates, asking if they remembered…everyone had a vague idea but couldn’t quite remember. Then the handwritten cookbook came to the rescue! My mom scanned the page, and the description Conchi had given me was simply that this almond sauce is very easy to make, is made my sautéing blanched almonds, bread, and garlic in olive oil, and can be served with chicken, fish, or on top of vegetables. For the recipe in this post, I used Conchi’s almond sauce recipe (salsa de almendras), and improvised the base of chicken tenders, and added sautéed mushrooms, and green peas.
- 1 pound chicken tenders, trimmed
- 16 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced
- ½ medium onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup blanched almonds
- 1 slice bread, cut into smaller pieces (I used a slice of Ezequiel Sprouted Grain Bread)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup frozen green peas
- Salt and pepper
- Salt and pepper the chicken tenders. Heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large (preferably nonstick) pan over medium heat. Add the chicken tenders and cook until mostly cooked through and golden brown on all sides. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- In same pan used to cook chicken, heat another tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and fragrant, about two minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking until mushrooms have released liquid and become soft and brown. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- In a smaller pan, heat remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium low heat. Add the almonds, garlic, and bread. Cook until the almonds and bread are toasted, and the garlic becomes nice and fragrant. Keep a close eye on them so they don't burn! Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- Once cool, add the almond mixture to a food processor and pulse until it becomes paste-like. You should still be able to see little chunks of almond.
- In the same pan used to cook the chicken and mushrooms, add the almond sauce over low heat. Stir in the chicken broth and wine, bring to a simmer. Once the sauce begins to thicken slightly, add the mushrooms, chicken, and parsley. Mix to combine all ingredients and keep on heat until chicken is heated through. Serve warm.