Back when spring was easing into summer, I really didn’t fully appreciate just how much we had planned in the first few weeks of the season, and here we are in the middle of July. One thing I resolved on doing this summer was to spend some time revisiting my favorite Catalunyan dishes since we wouldn’t be making our biennial trip over to Europe this year, what with us buying a house and me buying a new car, but with everything we’ve been up to it’s been awhile since we could devote a couple of days to anything more fun than a typical weeknight meal.
With a weekend looming on the horizon with no plans but our own, I decided to give us a chance to relax and give ourselves a mini Caldes d’Estrac vacation, at least with food if not in beach time. Rosado would be poured, caftans donned, and my hope was each dish would bring us back to those warm days we would spend along the Mediterranean coast.
First up on the list was a dish that we didn’t have while there, but since then I’ve put on my list of things to try when we eventually make our return: snails in a spicy tomato sauce. Snails are definitely a thing in Spain–often simply sauteed with lots of garlic and parsley–but what intrigued me about this was making a lovely sauce for them after seeing Sofia’s photos of some rather delectable-looking ones over at Papaya Pieces. My first go-round with this dish a few weeks ago yielded a sauce that was definitely on the chunky side; while good, I wanted to compare it to a smoother and silkier sauce like the one Sofia showed from La Tomaquera, so this time around I made sure I had enough sauce to make a smooth puree.
I took some inspiration from Barcelona Wine bar’s spicy diabla sauce that they serve with mussels, but reduced the proportions a bit because a can of snails is significantly smaller than two pounds of shellfish. There really isn’t much to this–make the sauce, puree it, and then warm up the snails a bit with some olive oil and garlic before adding the sauce to the pan and letting everything combine neatly. I used a paella here, but a saute pan will also work very nicely.
Consider this the first in what will hopefully be a series of posts celebrating Catalunyan vacation food because I know that one weekend of dishes will likely not be enough to satisfy my longing.
Snails in spicy tomato sauce/Cargols amb salsa de tomàquet picant
Sauce recipe adapted from Barcelona Wine Bar’s cookbook
Serves two as an appetizer
- 1 7 oz can snails, drained and rinsed
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
For the sauce:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- Large handful parsley leaves, chopped, plus extra for garnish
Make the sauce: In a small to medium saucepan, heat the olive oil on medium heat, and then when the oil is shimmering add the garlic. Let the garlic cook in the oil until slightly browned, and then add the tomatoes, wine, and parsley; bring to a simmer and then let it simmer for 15 minutes. Carefully using an immersion blender, blend the sauce until it’s a smooth puree, and let reduce for another 5-10 minutes, depending on how much bread you have on hand.
Warm the snails: In a small saute pan or paella pan, heat up the olive oil on medium heat and then add the garlic. When fragrant, add the snails, let cook for a minute, and then add the sauce and let it go for a good two minutes to four to let the snails warm through thoroughly. Add to a serving dish (a small cazuela is ideal here) and garnish with more parsley before serving.