Spanish Recipes and Cuisine
Posted by Dreamer
Spanish recipes, information about Spanish cuisine, and reasons why you should cook Spanish food at home. The anatomy of a Spanish lunch and recipes for Spanish classics tortilla de patata and sangría.
In recent years, Spanish cuisine has been a hot topic within international food circles, and for good reason too. Rooted in several cultures, Spain’s gastronomy is at once traditional and inventive. Spanish cuisine has a dazzling variety of both regional and national dishes and, as you know, makes liberal use of olive oil and red wine. And the fact that some of the top chefs in the world today are Spanish doesn’t hurt Spanish food’s reputation either. Think of Ferrán Adrià, Juan Mari Arzak, and Martín Berasategui. These and other chefs (mostly Basques and Catalans) have been particularly good at capturing palates both within Spain and around the world.
If you like to cook, or if you think you’d like to start, cooking Spanish food at home can be a great way to:
- Eat well everyday: The Mediterranean diet has widely recognized health benefits that stem from using olive oil as opposed to butter, eating more fish than red meat, and relatively greater consumption of fruits, vegetables, and grains.
- Immerse yourself in Spanish culture: Whether you’re trading recipes with your Spanish neighbors or hosting dinner parties for Spanish friends who balk at some of the food you’ve brought from home, whipping up some Spanish food can give you more insight into the country you’ve chosen to call home.
- Join an international food phenomenon and impress the ladies (or the gentlemen) with your tortilla-making skills: with all the Spanish restaurants and tapas or “small plates” restaurants popping up all over the world, Spanish food is ever more popular with the masses.
Are you hungry yet? No? Ok, let’s change that.
For Spaniards, lunch (comida) is still the biggest meal of the day. Even with the proliferation of fast food chains and the almost complete disappearance of the mythical after-lunch siesta, a Spanish lunch is still a rather leisurely affair.
A full Spanish lunch generally consists of:
- Sparkling or still water, wine, and/or other drinks
- A first course (primer plato)
- A second course (segundo plato/plato principal)
- Dessert and coffee or herbal tea
Our lunch will be no different – a bonanza of tried and true Spanish classics:
The First Course: Soup
A bright red, cold soup packed with vegetables, gazpacho is a summer favorite. Dice some tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, onions, and bread for added texture and flavor. Place the vegetables on a plate or tray and each guest can spoon the right amount into their own bowl. Other options include a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of cumin, or chilled bowls.
Then when the weather is cold, try a heartier soup like lentil or squash.
The Second Course: Tortilla de Patata
Tortilla de patata, also known as tortilla española or Spanish omelet, is a simple, hearty dish made from potatoes and eggs – a classic widely available throughout Spain. And it’s vegetarian unless you decide to add strips of ham or other meat. Other tortilla variations include adding diced green bell peppers, zucchini, spinach, or mushrooms, though you can literally add just about anything.
Accompany the tortilla de patata with oven-roasted bell peppers brushed with olive oil or a fresh green salad.
Spanish tortilla is not to be confused with the Mexican tortilla, a staple of Mexican cuisine made of flour or corn and an integral part of enchiladas, burritos, quesadillas, and other Mexican specialties.
A loaf of Bimbo will not do here. Go down to your local bakery (panadería) and get a fresh loaf (barra, baguette, hogaza, chapata, etc) or some rolls (panecillos). Accompany your bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping.
Water is a popular, healthy choice, either sparkling (con gas) or still (sin gas), and best accompanied by wine.
Wine is largely a matter of personal taste, but as a friend of mine put it, “You can never go wrong with a bottle of red wine from the region of La Rioja.” To lighten it up, mix red wine with carbonated gaseosa or Casera (to start, try 60% gaseosa to 40% wine).
Fruit juices and sodas are also fair game. Coffee in Spain, however, is reserved for after the meal.
At home the most common Spanish dessert is a piece of fruit or a yogurt cup, of which Spain has countless varieties. But if you’re looking for something more decadent or something for a special occasion, I’m sure your neighborhood cake shop (pastelería) can tempt you with an assortment of sugar-laden cakes and pastries, if it hasn’t already tempted you every time you’ve walked by.
A hot drink can also be a great way to end a meal, with or without dessert. Common choices include a cortado (espresso with a drop of milk) or an infusión de hierbabuena (mint tea) or poleo (pennyroyal tea).