Spanish cuisine is worldwide recognized and Spain is the perfect destination for gastronomy lovers. It is included within the Mediterranean cuisine and the so-called Mediterranean diet, said to be healthy and varied. 

The fact is that our cuisine converges techniques and ingredients from many different parts of the world, since it has been heavily influenced by the historical processes given in the Peninsula, as well as by the geography and the climate. It is the result of a complex history of conquests that has modified traditions and incorporated new ones. All Celts, Iberians, Tartessos, Romans, Visigoths, Berbers and Arabs brought new ingredients to current Spain, and the discovery of America also allowed us to import products that are a strong basis in our gastronomy nowadays. Actually, we owe to America three of the four recipes proposed below, since they include tomatoes and potatoes.

You have probably heard that Spanish meal schedules are a bit crazy, and I have to confirm it. Breakfast hours vary depending on the wake-up hour, but lunch, consisting of one or two courses plus dessert, is usually from 2 to 4 pm, and dinner from 9 to 11 pm. It is common to have some snacks in between, and we love food so much that we can even have appetizers right before lunch or dinner in the form of tapas (tiny rations). In our culture it is also common to have meals, especially lunch, followed by sobremesa, tabletalk that can last hours.

Even though there are a lot of variety among regions, most Spanish recipes include some sort of animal or animal-derived product, no matter if meat, fish, eggs. We also use a lot of vegetables to combine with them or just to eat as a main dish or side dish. In this case, since the writer is vegetarian, the proposals are meat-free.

Our trio of cold soups (perfect for spring and summer!)

Salmorejo: a delicious thick cream

Ingredients for six: 1kg of tomatoes; 200 gr loaf of bread (the proportion of bread can vary depending on the water that tomatoes have and how consistent the crumb is); 150 ml extra virgin olive oil; 1 garlic clove; salt to taste.

Instructions: Wash the tomatoes, crush them, and pass them through a fine strainer. In a bowl, place the bread and cover it with the tomato puree, leaving it to soak for about ten minutes. Incorporate the garlic and crash with a mixer or Thermomix. Add the extra virgin olive oil to achieve the perfect emulsion and a thick and creamy result. Whip again until the salmorejo is uniform, with a nice orange color and compact enough to bear on its surface the traditional tripping pieces: Serrano ham and hard-boiled egg.

Gazpacho: in every family there is an infallible recipe

Ingredients for six: 1 kg pear tomato; 1 Italian green pepper; 1 cucumber; 2 cloves of garlic; 50 ml extra virgin olive oil; 50 gr loaf of hard bread; 250 ml water; 5 g salt; 30 ml sherry vinegar. Some people also use onion or red pepper.

Instructions: Chop all the solid ingredients and add the liquids, crushing everything in the glass blender. It is not necessary to peel because everything is passed through the fine strainer. Put in the fridge a couple of hours before consuming (never add ice!)

Ajoblanco: no two ajoblanco alike

Ingredients for 1L: 100 gr. unroasted almond; 2 cloves of garlic; 1L fresh water; 150 gr. of breadcrumb; 100 ml. extra virgin olive oil; 30 ml. white wine vinegar; a pinch of salt.

Instructions: Soak the bread if it is hard so that the crumb softens. Remove from the scab and reserve it. Meanwhile, boil a pot with water. When it boils, put the almonds in a strainer and give a couple of blanches with a ladle: pour two or three tablespoons of boiling water over it. Chill for a few minutes and peel them. The traditional way of making ajoblanco is to crush the garlic and almonds in a mortar, but it can be done with a mixer. Add the crumb, oil and vinegar and beat. Add water and chill in the fridge.

Perfect ending: the incomparable Spanish omelette

Ingredients for four: 700 gr potatoes; 300 gr onion; 6 eggs; salt; olive oil

Instructions: Peel the onion and cut into julienne strips. Put in a frying pan over very low heat, cook very slowly, stirring occasionally so that it is poached. Meanwhile, peel and cut the potatoes into thin slices, uniform in size. Leave in water for 15 minutes and warm up a pan with abundant olive oil. Add the potatoes and fry (you can choose to confit them, cooking slowly over low heat, or brown them over high heat). Remove the potatoes and drain in a large bowl. Drain the onion when it is done, and put on the potatoes. Beat the eggs and add to the bowl, stirring with a fork so that the three ingredients are mixed well. Curdle omelette in a pan with a tablespoon of oil for about three or four minutes and turn (with the help of a flat plate).

That’s all! I hope you enjoy these delights that are so cheap and easy to make!

Author: Beatriz Cintaz Cantarero, volunteer in the project “Volunteering circles”

The project “Volunteering Circles” (2018-2-BG01-KA125-048262) is Co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union and Human Resource Development Center (HRDC).

 Posted by Monika at 16:16 Volunteer activities

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