Herby croquetas with romesco sauce

This fantastic Spanish-inspired recipe is great for using up leftover cooked rice and roast lamb. Romesco sauce is a classic Catalan sauce of smoky peppers and almonds that is both intensely spicy and sweet.

This is time consuming so be ready for the challenge!

Rice type: Basmati rice
Servings: Makes about 16 - serves 4-6 as a light meal or part of a tapas spread
Preparation Time: 30-40 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

• 300g cooked basmati rice (cold)
• 200g cold roast lamb, finely shredded
• 100g manchego cheese, finely grated
• 3 spring onions, very finely chopped
• 1 clove garlic, crushed
• A small bunch flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
• A small bunch coriander, finely chopped
• 3 large eggs
• Salt & freshly ground pepper

Step 1

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the cooked Superior Aromatic basmati rice, shredded lamb, manchego, spring onion, garlic and herbs. Break in the eggs, and mix well to combine, seasoning generously with salt and black pepper. The mixture should be wet and sticky enough to hold its shape when you press it into a ball.

Step 2

To make the croquetas, set up a little production line on the worktop, with the bowl of rice mixture at one end, followed by a shallow bowl with the beaten egg, then the breadcrumbs spread out on a baking tray. Finally have an empty baking tray to line up the finished croquetas. Take a dessert spoonful of the mixture and, using slightly damp hands, roll it into a rugby ball shape.

Step 3

Gently roll in the egg to coat all over, then roll in the breadcrumbs until it is completely coated before placing on the empty tray. Continue until you have used up all the mixture - stopping to wash your hands from time to time to stop the whole process getting too sticky! - aiming for around 16 or so croquetas. Once they are all made they will keep quite happily in the fridge for 24hours, or freeze for up to 3 months before defrosting and cooking as below.

Step 4

To make the Romesco sauce, preheat the oven to 200ºC. Set the peppers on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 20 minutes. After this time, slide the tomatoes and peppers onto the tray alongside the partly cooked peppers and continue cooking in the oven for a further 15-20 minutes until all the vegetables are soft and lightly charred on the outside. Spread out the almonds and olive oil drizzled bread onto another baking sheet and slide into the oven for the last 10 minutes of roasting time. Remove both baking trays and set aside to cool for a few moments. Once cold enough to handle, peel the skin off the peppers, deseed and add to a food processor. Add the roast tomatoes and chillies (deseeding if you like less heat), along with the almonds. Then roughly chop up the toasted bread and add that. Finally add the olive oil, sherry vinegar, garlic, smoked paprika and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Blitz to a smooth thick paste, then taste, adding a little more vinegar if it needs sharpening a touch. Scrape into a serving bowl and set aside for the flavours to mingle - this sauce is best eaten fresh at room temperature, but store in the fridge and use within 3 days

Step 5

When you are ready to eat, heat a deep fat fryer to 180ºC. You can also fill a large pan halfway with vegetable oil and set over a medium heat. The oil is hot enough to fry when a small cube of breads turns a deep golden brown in around a minute. Fry the croquetas in a couple of batches for around 4-5 minutes until crisp and golden.