May Day here is known as Dia de la Cruz “Day of the Cross”. It is also Dia de los Verdes “Day of the Greens”. In Alhaurin there are two main churches known as The Greens & The Purples (the colours of the Andalucian flag). For the whole long weekend and Tuesday the Green Church known asVera Cruz have processions, marching bands and let off rockets very early in the morning and very late at night.
Thankfully it stopped raining long enough to get out and take some photos this week.
I can’t pretend to know what it’s all about but they seem to enjoy it and it brings the community (well one half of it anyway) together. Rows of different types of chairs are tied together all along the procession route so no one can steal a precious front row seat.
After the processions everyone congregates at the church.
Everyone is wearing green. Purple is a definite faux-pas. Unless you are our friend Miguel, who was over from England with his girlfriend Lindsey for the Bank Holiday. He decide to rock it in lilac jeans, despite all the funny looks, classic Miguel, hilarious….!!
So in keeping with this green weekend and to atone slightly for the purple jeans incident I have made a Green Vegetable Minestrone. This is my favourite soup that we served at the restaurant. I got it from a Cape Town cookbook my Dad gave to me. It is really fresh tasting and more Springy than a classic Minestrone. You can use whatever green veg you like just make sure you give it loads of fresh basil…
I kept it vegan & gluten-free by using rice vermicelli. You can use any pasta you like but keep it tiny. Freshly shaved parmesan on top is the authentic addition that I replaced with toasted pine nuts. Either way it’s a deliciously healthy bowl of goodness that leaves you feeling all virtuous inside…
Green Vegetable Minestrone with Toasted Pine Nuts
serves 6 , vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Cape Town Food by Phillippa Cheifitz
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 big Spanish spring onion (or 4 or 5 scallions)
- 1 leek, halved lengthways, rinsed & finely sliced
- 2 stalks celery, finely sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/2 small cabbage, cored & finely shredded
- 125 gr green beans, 2 cm diagonal slices
- 1 courgette, diced
- bundle of asparagus, woody ends snapped off, 2cm diagonal slices
- 100 gr frozen peas
- 50 gr rice vermicelli (or other tiny pasta)
- 150 gr rocket (or spinach/watercress)
- 1+ 1/2 litres veg stock
- salt & black pepper
- a big bunch of basil, leaves torn or sliced when served
- 25 gr pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan
- extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
- shaved parmesan (unless vegan)
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over a medium heat, add in the spring onions, leeks & celery with a pinch of salt and cook until starting to soften about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic & parsley and cook for another minute or two.
Add in the cabbage and cook gently for about 10 minutes (you don’t want it to brown) add a splash of stock if dry. Then add in the rest of the vegetables, except the rocket and basil, and cook for another 5 minutes. Season well with salt & black pepper, pour over the stock, bring to the boil, cover, lower the heat & simmer for about 25 minutes.
Stir in the pasta and rocket and cook until tender about 5 minutes. Check seasoning and add more stock if you want it more soupy than stewy.
Ladle into warm bowls and sprinkle over lots of freshly torn basil, the toasted pine nuts and shaved parmesan (if using). Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin.
I think Los Verdes would approve don’t you?