Lockdown recipes: How to make alubias and albondigas

This week Heath Savage shares two of her favourite recipes that are the perfect healthy comfort food to enjoy during lockdown.

Lockdown recipes: How to make alubias and albondigas
Photo: Lablascovegmenu/Egoitz Moreno/Flickr

Some people have been complaining on social media that they are developing “Iso-Tummy”, the result of boredom or comfort eating.

Tempting as it is to bake your way through this Covid crisis, it’s critical to maintain good health and a strong immune system. So, I have been reserving the sugary treats for weekends, and getting as many vegetables into my diet as possible.

We hosted a Workaway volunteer for six weeks until recently, and providing him with two decent meals a day was obligatory, so I stuck with the formula of a soup and salad lunch, and a more substantial offering for our evening meal. 

This regime has helped me to maintain my weight (I could still lose 10 kilos, ‘though at least I haven’t put on any!) and I feel energized, and well in myself.

During my post-chef years, working in socially deprived areas as a case manager/counsellor, my clients were primarily with people who had mental health and addictions issues, and I was always struck by how important a decent diet is when battling depression and anxiety  – which I think have become issues for many, for whom lock-down really is just that: cooped up in city apartments, where a spot of gardening in the spring sunshine, even a seat on a balcony isn’t an option, some people are turning to tv and fatty/sugary snacks to turn up the feel-good factor. It’s understandable, but it’s unwise.

So, here are a couple of traditional local recipes which I have given a twist to. They take a little time to prepare, but are worth waiting for.

This is Galician style food at its best; satisfying, tasty, and inexpensive. Your mind and body will thank you for pushing away the potato chips and getting on the outside of some of this good Spanish tucker!

Seasonal Vegetable and Bean Soup

Photo: Lablascovegmenu /Flickr

Serves two

What you need

1 med. Brown onion, sliced

1 large carrot, diced

1 large celery stick, finely chopped

1 small bunch fresh parsley (I grow my own in pots)

1 med. tomato, diced (don’t bother de-seeding and skinning, it’s all roughage!)

4 or 5 *Bragansa cabbage leaves, or some curly kale, finely sliced (I cut out the hard, fibrous core first, and I keep that for the stock pot or for composting)

4 cloves of garlic, grated or very finely chopped

1 jar cooked white beans or butter beans

1 tbsp pesto (I make my own, but bought pesto is just fine)

1 bay leaf

Sea-salt and black pepper

Two chicken or vegetable stock cubes and a litre of boiled water, or a litre of hot, fresh chicken stock

Olive oil and a knob of butter

*Bragansa cabbage is the most common in my area. I has a tough, blue-green leaf, and a slightly bitter taste, but it cooks up wonderfully well in a soup or stew.


How to do it

Sweat the veggies gently in the oil and butter and garlic until translucent. Add the tomato when the vegetables are softened. Season. Add the hot stock and bay leaf, bring to the boil, then turn down to a low simmer. Add the beans – I also use the preserving liquid in the jar, as it thickens the soup nicely.

Simmer for 30 minutes until everything is lovely and soft, and the beans have that creaminess that is so good. Take off the heat. Remove bay leaf. Add chopped parsley. Add the pesto, and stir.

I love this with my home-made cheesy gnocchi bobbing in it, just for an additional carb fix. But it’s also good with the crusty Galician bread I have come to love.

Albondigas in Broth

Photo: Egoitz Moreno /Flickr

*There is a Mexican version of this, that I tried on my travels, and I was told that its origins are Spanish

Serves 2

What you need

250g ground pork. This should make ten meatballs.

*I have used minced chicken for a lower fat version and it worked, but I that felt it lacked authenticity.

1 Med. -sized finely diced onion (save half for the broth)

4 cloves grated garlic

2 med sized potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced

6 thick slices zucchini cut into half-moons

2 fresh chorizo sausages removed from their skin and broken in to pieces

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

2 tsps sweet paprika

¼ cup fresh breadcrumbs

¼ cup milk

½ cup flour, seasoned

1 handful chopped fresh parsley

1 handful chopped cilantro

Salt and pepper

1 egg, beaten

½ cup olive oil

½ litre good chicken stock

How to do it

Mix the breadcrumbs thoroughly with the milk, and squeeze or press through a sieve to remove most of the liquid. Reserve the bread. Beat in the egg. Season. Add all the spices and herbs, add the meat, parsley, and grated garlic. Mix well with very clean hands. Add a little olive oil. Mix again until really smooth, like a pate. Chill for about 20 minutes in the ‘fridge.

In a soup pan, gently sweat ½ the chopped onion in some olive oil until soft. Add the pieces of chorizo sausage to the pan and gently brown and seal them. This will give the oil a lovely flavour and colour.

Take the chilled meat mix and form into “golf-balls”, roll in flour.

Heat some olive oil in another large pan. Add the meatballs and brown them all over until they are firm and sealed, but not fully cooked.

Remove meatballs from pan. Set aside until cool and firm.

Heat the stock until just boiled, add to the pan with the onions and chorizo. Turn heat down to a gentle simmer. Add the sliced potatoes and zucchini. Just before the potatoes are fully softened, add the meatballs, and cook them in the broth.

Serve this summer or winter. It’s both light and satisfying.




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Public Health Agency recommends two Covid doses next year for elderly

Sweden's Public Health Agency is recommending that those above the age of 80 should receive two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine a year, once in the spring and once in the autumn, as it shifts towards a longer-term strategy for the virus.

Public Health Agency recommends two Covid doses next year for elderly

In a new recommendation, the agency said that those living in elderly care centres, and those above the age of 80 should from March 1st receive two vaccinations a year, with a six month gap between doses. 

“Elderly people develop a somewhat worse immune defence after vaccination and immunity wanes faster than among young and healthy people,” the agency said. “That means that elderly people have a greater need of booster doses than younger ones. The Swedish Public Health Agency considers, based on the current knowledge, that it will be important even going into the future to have booster doses for the elderly and people in risk groups.” 


People between the ages of 65 and 79 years old and young people with risk factors, such as obesity, diabetes, poor kidney function or high blood pressure, are recommended to take one additional dose per year.

The new vaccination recommendation, which will start to apply from March 1st next year, is only for 2023, Johanna Rubin, the investigator in the agency’s vaccination programme unit, explained. 

She said too much was still unclear about how long protection from vaccination lasted to institute a permanent programme.

“This recommendation applies to 2023. There is not really an abundance of data on how long protection lasts after a booster dose, of course, but this is what we can say for now,” she told the TT newswire. 

It was likely, however, that elderly people would end up being given an annual dose to protect them from any new variants, as has long been the case with influenza.