Lockdown recipes: How to make alubias and albondigas

This week Heath Savage shares two of her favourite recipes that are the perfect healthy comfort food to enjoy during lockdown.

Lockdown recipes: How to make alubias and albondigas
Photo: Lablascovegmenu/Egoitz Moreno/Flickr

Some people have been complaining on social media that they are developing “Iso-Tummy”, the result of boredom or comfort eating.

Tempting as it is to bake your way through this Covid crisis, it’s critical to maintain good health and a strong immune system. So, I have been reserving the sugary treats for weekends, and getting as many vegetables into my diet as possible.

We hosted a Workaway volunteer for six weeks until recently, and providing him with two decent meals a day was obligatory, so I stuck with the formula of a soup and salad lunch, and a more substantial offering for our evening meal. 

This regime has helped me to maintain my weight (I could still lose 10 kilos, ‘though at least I haven’t put on any!) and I feel energized, and well in myself.

During my post-chef years, working in socially deprived areas as a case manager/counsellor, my clients were primarily with people who had mental health and addictions issues, and I was always struck by how important a decent diet is when battling depression and anxiety  – which I think have become issues for many, for whom lock-down really is just that: cooped up in city apartments, where a spot of gardening in the spring sunshine, even a seat on a balcony isn’t an option, some people are turning to tv and fatty/sugary snacks to turn up the feel-good factor. It’s understandable, but it’s unwise.

So, here are a couple of traditional local recipes which I have given a twist to. They take a little time to prepare, but are worth waiting for.

This is Galician style food at its best; satisfying, tasty, and inexpensive. Your mind and body will thank you for pushing away the potato chips and getting on the outside of some of this good Spanish tucker!

Seasonal Vegetable and Bean Soup

Photo: Lablascovegmenu /Flickr

Serves two

What you need

1 med. Brown onion, sliced

1 large carrot, diced

1 large celery stick, finely chopped

1 small bunch fresh parsley (I grow my own in pots)

1 med. tomato, diced (don’t bother de-seeding and skinning, it’s all roughage!)

4 or 5 *Bragansa cabbage leaves, or some curly kale, finely sliced (I cut out the hard, fibrous core first, and I keep that for the stock pot or for composting)

4 cloves of garlic, grated or very finely chopped

1 jar cooked white beans or butter beans

1 tbsp pesto (I make my own, but bought pesto is just fine)

1 bay leaf

Sea-salt and black pepper

Two chicken or vegetable stock cubes and a litre of boiled water, or a litre of hot, fresh chicken stock

Olive oil and a knob of butter

*Bragansa cabbage is the most common in my area. I has a tough, blue-green leaf, and a slightly bitter taste, but it cooks up wonderfully well in a soup or stew.


How to do it

Sweat the veggies gently in the oil and butter and garlic until translucent. Add the tomato when the vegetables are softened. Season. Add the hot stock and bay leaf, bring to the boil, then turn down to a low simmer. Add the beans – I also use the preserving liquid in the jar, as it thickens the soup nicely.

Simmer for 30 minutes until everything is lovely and soft, and the beans have that creaminess that is so good. Take off the heat. Remove bay leaf. Add chopped parsley. Add the pesto, and stir.

I love this with my home-made cheesy gnocchi bobbing in it, just for an additional carb fix. But it’s also good with the crusty Galician bread I have come to love.

Albondigas in Broth

Photo: Egoitz Moreno /Flickr

*There is a Mexican version of this, that I tried on my travels, and I was told that its origins are Spanish

Serves 2

What you need

250g ground pork. This should make ten meatballs.

*I have used minced chicken for a lower fat version and it worked, but I that felt it lacked authenticity.

1 Med. -sized finely diced onion (save half for the broth)

4 cloves grated garlic

2 med sized potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced

6 thick slices zucchini cut into half-moons

2 fresh chorizo sausages removed from their skin and broken in to pieces

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

2 tsps sweet paprika

¼ cup fresh breadcrumbs

¼ cup milk

½ cup flour, seasoned

1 handful chopped fresh parsley

1 handful chopped cilantro

Salt and pepper

1 egg, beaten

½ cup olive oil

½ litre good chicken stock

How to do it

Mix the breadcrumbs thoroughly with the milk, and squeeze or press through a sieve to remove most of the liquid. Reserve the bread. Beat in the egg. Season. Add all the spices and herbs, add the meat, parsley, and grated garlic. Mix well with very clean hands. Add a little olive oil. Mix again until really smooth, like a pate. Chill for about 20 minutes in the ‘fridge.

In a soup pan, gently sweat ½ the chopped onion in some olive oil until soft. Add the pieces of chorizo sausage to the pan and gently brown and seal them. This will give the oil a lovely flavour and colour.

Take the chilled meat mix and form into “golf-balls”, roll in flour.

Heat some olive oil in another large pan. Add the meatballs and brown them all over until they are firm and sealed, but not fully cooked.

Remove meatballs from pan. Set aside until cool and firm.

Heat the stock until just boiled, add to the pan with the onions and chorizo. Turn heat down to a gentle simmer. Add the sliced potatoes and zucchini. Just before the potatoes are fully softened, add the meatballs, and cook them in the broth.

Serve this summer or winter. It’s both light and satisfying.




Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Spain rules out EU’s advice on compulsory Covid-19 vaccination 

Spain’s Health Ministry said Thursday there will be no mandatory vaccination in the country following the European Commission’s advice to Member States to “think about it” and Germany’s announcement that it will make vaccines compulsory in February.

Spain rules out EU's advice on compulsory Covid-19 vaccination 
A Spanish man being vaccinated poses with a custom-made T-shirt showing Spain's chief epidimiologist Fernando Simón striking a 'Dirty Harry/Clint Eastwood' pose over the words "What part of keep a two-metre distance don't you understand?' Photo: José Jordan

Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias on Thursday told journalists Covid-19 vaccines will continue to be voluntary in Spain given the “very high awareness of the population” with regard to the benefits of vaccination.

This follows the words of European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday, urging Member States to “think about mandatory vaccination” as more cases of the Omicron variant are detected across Europe. 

READ ALSO: Is Spain proving facts rather than force can convince the unvaccinated?

“I can understand that countries with low vaccine coverage are contemplating this and that Von der Leyen is considering opening up a debate, but in our country the situation is absolutely different,” Darias said at the press conference following her meeting with Spain’s Interterritorial Health Council.

According to the national health minister,  this was also “the general belief” of regional health leaders of each of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities she had just been in discussion with over Christmas Covid measures. 

READ MORE: Spain rules out new restrictions against Omicron variant

Almost 80 percent of Spain’s total population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, a figure which is around 10 percent higher if looking at those who are eligible for the vaccine (over 12s). 

It has the highest vaccination rate among Europe’s most populous countries.

Germany announced tough new restrictions on Thursday in a bid to contain its fourth wave of Covid-19 aimed largely at the country’s unvaccinated people, with outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking in favour of compulsory vaccinations, which the German parliament is due to vote on soon.

Austria has also already said it will make Covid-19 vaccines compulsory next February, Belgium is also considering it and Greece on Tuesday said it will make vaccination obligatory for those over 60.

But for Spain, strict Covid-19 vaccination rules have never been on the table, having said from the start that getting the Covid-19 jabs was voluntary. 

There’s also a huge legal implication to imposing such a rule which Spanish courts are unlikely to look on favourably. 

Stricter Covid restrictions and the country’s two states of alarm, the first resulting in a full national lockdown from March to May 2020, have both been deemed unconstitutional by Spain’s Constitutional Court. 

READ ALSO: Could Spain lock down its unvaccinated or make Covid vaccines compulsory?

The Covid-19 health pass to access indoor public spaces was also until recently consistently rejected by regional high courts for breaching fundamental rights, although judges have changed their stance favouring this Covid certificate over old Covid-19 restrictions that affect the whole population.

MAP: Which regions in Spain now require a Covid health pass for daily affairs?

“In Spain what we have to do is to continue vaccinating as we have done until now” Darias added. 

“Spaniards understand that vaccines are not only a right, they are an obligation because we protect others with them”.

What Spanish health authorities are still considering is whether to vaccinate their 5 to 11 year olds after the go-ahead from the European Medicines Agency, with regions such as Madrid claiming they will start vaccinating their young children in December despite there being no official confirmation from Spain’s Vaccine Committee yet.

READ MORE: Will Spain soon vaccinate its children under 12?

Spain’s infection rate continues to rise day by day, jumping 17 points up to 234 cases per 100,000 people on Thursday. There are now also five confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in the country, one through community transmission.

Hospital bed occupancy with Covid patients has also risen slightly nationwide to 3.3 percent, as has ICU Covid occupancy which now stands at 8.4 percent, but the Spanish government insists these figures are “almost three times lower” than during previous waves of the coronavirus pandemic.