It’s 30 years since Monika Linton launched Brindisa (with her brother Mark) to celebrate the wonders of Spanish food here in the UK. Having studied and worked in restaurant kitchens in Catalonia, she was inspired to source everything from cured meats to olive oil – opening a shop in Borough Market, followed by London’s first traditional tapas bar in 2004.
There are now six Brindisa restaurants across London, showcasing Monika’s passion for Spanish sharing dishes. The latest buzzy addition to the family – Tapas Brindisa Battersea – is right at the heart of the cool new neighbourhood next to the Power Station and has a fabulous view of the river.
Here Monika shares three delicious recipes from her cookbook: Brindisa: The True Food Of Spain (4th Estate).
Alubias al horno en salsa de tomate
Homemade baked beans in spicy tomato sauce
This is baked beans taken to a whole new, spicy level, which we serve for breakfast at our London Bridge restaurant, using white small arrocina beans – A Spanish twist on a British tradition. We make the brava sauce with a little more sugar than when serving it in the traditional way with potatoes, which makes it a bit more syrupy when it reduces down during cooking. The quantity of liquid might seem a lot when the dish goes into the oven, but I promise you this works – we cook these beans regularly at home and they are a big favourite
500g arrocina beans
1 rice morcilla de Burgos (optional)
1 tablespoon olive oil
For the salsa brava:
1 fresh red chilli pepper or a pinch of dried chili flakes (plus extra flakes if required)
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ a large onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
¼ a large leek, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
500g ripe medium tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato purée, if needed
A pinch of salt
A pinch of sugar, or to taste
Soak the arrocina beans in cold water overnight.
First, make the brava sauce. If using a fresh chilli pepper, preheat the grill, roast the pepper for 2 minutes on each side to bring out the flavour, then leave to cool and remove the stalk.
Heat the olive oil in a pan, add the onion, carrot, leek, garlic and the whole roasted chilli pepper, if using, and cook very slowly for 25-30 minutes, until the vegetables are soft, but not coloured, stirring from time to time to make sure they are not catching.
Either grate the tomatoes or, if you prefer, de-skin and de-seed them.
Add the tomatoes to the pan. If you are using chilli flakes instead of a fresh chilli, add them now. Simmer over a very low heat for 1 ¼ hours, stirring frequently. Taste and add extra dried chilli if necessary to give more heat. The sauce should be a rich, deep orange colour, but if your tomatoes aren’t the ripest, you might want to help the colour – and flavour – with a tablespoon of tomato purée.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4.
Drain the beans, put into an ovenproof dish and cover with 2 litres of fresh cold water. Stir in the brava sauce and put into the preheated oven, without a lid, for 3 hours, until the beans are tender and the liquid is syrupy and has reduced down to just about a centimetre above the beans.
Slice the morcilla, if using, into 1cm rounds, then heat the olive oil in a small frying pan and brown each slice on both sides. Serve on top of the beans.
Porrusalda de la casa
Brindisa vegetable broth with salt cod and fennel
This is a lovely, wholesome and light broth which in Spain is often made just with garlic, leeks, onions, squash and potatoes. However, when our head chef, Leo, decided to put it on the menu at Casa Brindisa, he added some fennel and salt cod and people love it. The quality of the stock is important, so it is worth making your own.
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
2 leeks, sliced quite chunkily
1 medium onion or 1 shallot, sliced quite chunkily
¼ of a butternut squash, peeled and roughly chopped
1 bulb of fennel, sliced
2 large potatoes, roughly chopped
1.25 litres hot vegetable stock
200g de-salted cold (optional) – ideally an inexpensive cut such as cola (tail), migas (crumbs) or tacos (chunks)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil gently in a large pan, add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes until softened but not coloured, then add the leeks and onion or shallot and cook for 3 minutes. Add the squash and fennel and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. Finally, add the potatoes and let everything cook gently for 10 minutes until lightly coloured.
Add the hot stock, cover the pan and simmer over a medium heat for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, if adding de-salted cod, blanch it in a pan of boiling water for about 3 minutes, then drain under the cold tap – just until the fish is cold enough to handle. Put it on a chopping board, remove the skin, and flake carefully to find and remove any bones. Add the flakes to the soup 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Season and serve.
Pochas con morcilla y acelgas
Fried white beans with black pudding and Swiss chard
This recipe was created for the London Bridge tapas menu. Colourful, iron-rich and nourishing. I have enjoyed it on so many occasions.
250g fresh white beans, such as pochas, alubias or mongetes, or 200g dried white beans
1 carrot, peeled
1 bay leaf
2 cloves of garlic, peeled, one left whole, the other chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus a little extra for cooking the beans
200g Swiss chard leaves
4 morcilla or botifarra negra
Chopped parsley (optional), to finish
If using dried beans, soak them overnight in plenty of water. Put the soaked or fresh beans into a pan with the whole carrot, bay leaf and whole clove of garlic. Cover with plenty of cold water. Add a drizzle of oil. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer until tender (around 20 minutes for fresh beans or 45-60 minutes for dried). Drain, reserving some cooking water, and discard the garlic, carrot and bay leaf.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a sauté pan or wok, add the chopped garlic and shallot and cook gently until golden, then add the cooked beans together with the Swiss chard, and fry quickly, adding a tablespoon of the reserved cooking wate. Let the liquid bubble up and reduce a little, then taste, and season with salt.
Meanwhile, heat the rest of the oil in a frying pan, add the morcilla or botifarra negra and sauté for a couple of minutes, breaking it up into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Serve the beans topped with the morcilla or botifarra negra, and a sprinkling of parsley, if you like.