Spanish Recipes

    When I was fifteen I lived in a little Spanish city called Talavera de la Reina with the Lazaros, my exchange family. My Spanish mama Julia is an incredible cook and introduced me to the cuisine of the Iberian peninsula - which is always best home-cooked. In the evenings, the typical Spanish dinner is lighter than the meat and rice dishes often found at lunchtime. This menu is what you would find at my family's house on a weeknight. Spanish tortilla cut into small pieces, some manchego, a glass of wine, gambas and pan con tomate. Perfect.


    Tortilla Española

    This tortilla is distinguished by its density because it’s got a high potato-to-egg ratio. Flip it often for an even texture. This is best at room temperature, so definitely make it ahead.

    Serves: 4
    Time: 30 minutes

    • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
    • 3 large waxy potatoes (about 1 3/4 pounds total), peeled and diced into 1/3" cubes
    • Couple teaspoons of coarse salt
    • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and cut into 1/8"-thick half moons
    • 3 eggs
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    1.Heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add all of the potatoes – the oil should come to the top of the potatoes (add a bit more if it doesn’t). Once everything starts to sizzle, turn the heat down to medium and sprinkle it with a teaspoon of salt. Cook the potatoes for ten minutes, stirring constantly. The potatoes shouldn’t be browning, just getting cooked through. Add the onions and cook for ten more minutes. It’s okay if the vegetables turn a little golden at this point. Remove the potatoes and onions with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate and let them sit for five minutes.

    2.Whisk the eggs together in a large bowl with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add the potatoes and onions and gently fold everything together. Heat the olive oil in a small (about 7" diameter) nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the egg mixture and cook for 1 1/2 minutes or until the bottom is just set. Using a plate, invert the tortilla and return it to the pan. Continue to flip it using a plate every 30 seconds for a total of six minutes (a dozen flips). At the end, the whole thing will be set and browned and lovely. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

    Gambas al Ajillo

    This recipe is adapted from my “Spanish Mama,” Julia Ruiz Blanco. Basically, this method calls for “poaching” shrimp in olive oil made fragrant with garlic and a bit of chili, and then just barely browning them.

    Serves: 4
    Time: 10 minutes

    • 1/2 cup good Spanish olive oil
    • 2 1/2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
    • Pinch of your favorite red chili flakes
    • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
    • Pinch of sea salt

    Heat the olive oil with the garlic and chili in a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat. When the aromatics just start to bubble, add the shrimp and sprinkle each piece with a little bit of salt. Cook for a minute and then turn each one. They should not be browning, just turning opaque. Cook for another minute on the second side. Remove the shrimp from the pan and discard all but two tablespoons of the oil. Turn the heat up to high and return the shrimp to the pan. Cook for about 20 to 30 seconds on each side, until just browned. Serve warm.

    Marta's Pan con Tomate

    This approach is genius. Instead of rubbing the tomato on the bread, as per tradition, you simply make a raw sauce by grating the tomato. It’s a lot easier and a lot less wasteful.

    Serves: 4
    Time: 10 minutes

    • 1 baguette
    • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes
    • 1 large clove garlic, pushed through a press
    • 3 tablespoons good Spanish olive oil, plus more for serving
    • coarse salt
    • freshly ground black pepper

    1.Cut the baguette in half lengthwise and then cut each half into four pieces. Grill the bread over medium-high heat or brown in your toaster.

    2.Meanwhile, cut each tomato in half and grate on the coarse side of a box grater into a bowl. Grate until all the seeds, juice and pulp are pressed through (discard the skins). Add the garlic and olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. You can add more garlic if you like. Mix the sauce together and spoon it over the grilled bread, sprinkling each piece with just a bit more coarse salt and drizzling with extra oil.


    Good Spanish cheeses:

    • Manchego
    • Idiazábal
    • Cabrales (blue)
    • Mahon
    • Torta del Casar (my super stinky fave)

    Good Spanish olives:

    • Malagueña (little ones)
    • Manzanilla (green ones)
    • Arbequina (buttery ones)

    Good Spanish anchovies:

    • Ortiz brand “anchoas en aceite de oliva” (anchovies packed in olive oil)
    • El Corte Inglés (department store) store brand, “anchovy loins from the Bay of Biscay” packed in olive oil
    • boquerones (white anchovy filets packed in vinegar)

    Best online sources for Spanish ingredients:

    * Also, Spanish cava is delicious and much cheaper than champagne. I always like a Spanish Rioja with my meal.

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