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Rioja Vegetable Medley - Menestras de Verduras a la Riojana

Rioja Vegetable Medley

All the Ebro valley is famed for its vegetable crops, and La Rioja, which is watered by Ebro tributaries--the Najerilla, Tregua, Leza, Zidacos, Tirón, Alhama, and the Oja which gave it its name (Rio-Oja)--not only has excellent vegetables but knows how to bring out the best in them. The Rioja vegetable medley should be moist but not too liquid. There are differing opinions about how to make it. Some think the vegetables should be lightly sautéed with a little fried onion and ham, whereas others add a little flour and some of the vegetable cooking water to the onion before sautéing the vegetables. Sometimes the artichokes, Swiss chard stalks, and even the spears of asparagus are coated in batter and fried. We have chosen the version in which everything goes in raw and is served in a light golden sauce.

Makes 4 servings.

Prep Time: 40 min.

Cook Time: 1 hr. 15 min.

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8 small French onions
5 oz baby carrots
2 leeks
9 oz shelled peas
12 canned asparagus spears
9 oz green beans
4 artichokes
3.5 oz Jamón Serrano
4 fl oz oil
1 tbsp flour

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Wash and cut the beans into pieces and boil in salted water for 7 minutes. Cook the peas for 10 minutes and the artichokes for 12 minutes. Drain and set aside, also keeping the cooking water. Blanch and peel the onions and gently fry in the oil together with the leeks cut in rings, the scraped carrots, and the diced ham. Sprinkle with flour, then add the vegetable cooking water, cover and cook for 20 minutes, occasionally shaking to prevent sticking. Add the green beans, peas, artichokes, and asparagus. Bring to a boil and serve hot. Whatever vegetables are in season can be used and, out of season, substitute with frozen vegetables.

Selected by María Jesús Gil de Antuñano
Recipe courtesy of Spain GourmeTour magazine.

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