Traditional Spanish cuisine derives chiefly from Roman and Arabic influences, consisting of simple yet boldly flavored ingredients. About Food reports that the nation’s most beloved dishes combine simple preparation methods with market-fresh ingredients, culminating in elegant and understated dishes to suit just about any palette.
Incorporate the authentic flavors of Spain into your culinary repertoire by following these seven recipes.
1. Patatas Bravas
It seems like just about every culture has its take on how to best enjoy crispy, savory fried potatoes. In Spain, these delightful treats take the form of Patatas Bravas. The classic crispy treat is typically served as a small dish (or tapa), and this recipe from Saveur gives the rich, warming morsels a spicy twist. A chile-and-paprika-based sauce offers a spicy kick. Meanwhile, a light and creamy allioli — the Spanish version of the French garlic sauce aioli, notes The New York Times — offers a milder alternative.
- ½ cup crushed tomatoes
- 9 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for frying
- 1½ teaspoons red wine
- 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- 1 serrano chile, minced
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon milk
- 4 russet potatoes, peeled
Directions: Make the brava sauce – Purée tomatoes, 1 tablespoon oil, wine, paprika, sugar, and chile in a blender. Season with salt, transfer to a bowl, and set aside.
Make the allioli – Vigorously whisk egg yolk and garlic. While whisking, add 1 tablespoon oil in a thin stream until mixture thickens. Continue whisking, adding 7 tablespoons oil in a thin stream. Add lemon juice and milk, and season with salt; chill.
Pour oil into a 5-quart pot to a depth of 1½ inches; heat over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 220 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, halve potatoes crosswise. Using a small knife, shape each potato half into a 1¾-by-1-inch football shape. Transfer potatoes to oil and cook, turning occasionally, until tender and pale golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer potatoes to paper towels; chill. Remove pot from heat; reserve.
Heat the reserved oil over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Add potatoes; cook until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels; season with salt. Serve potatoes with the reserved brava sauce and allioli.
2. Chicken, Chorizo, and Shrimp Paella
Paella originated hundreds of years ago near the Spanish city of Valencia, writes The Nibble. Since then, this hearty rice dish has evolved in a number of ways, as cooks of all skill levels lend the dish their own exceptional finishing touches. Iowa Girl Eats’ Chicken, Chorizo, and Shrimp Paella offers a taste of surf-and-turf paella at its best. The addition of saffron lends the dish its characteristic yellow hue, while spices, shrimp, and meat combine to give the dish a satisfying protein kick. The recipe yields 4 servings.
- 2½ cups chicken broth
- Pinch of Spanish saffron
- Drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 boneless skinless chicken thighs, chopped
- 6 ounces chorizo
- 1 shallot or ½ onion, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- Dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 cup long-grain white rice
- 6 ounces large shrimp, peeled, then deveined and chopped
- ½ cup frozen peas
Directions: Bring chicken broth and saffron to a boil in a small saucepan, then turn heat to low and place a lid on top to keep hot.
Meanwhile, heat extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat then add chicken, chorizo, and shallots, season with salt and pepper, and then sauté until chorizo and chicken are cooked through, 5 minutes, breaking up chorizo as it cooks. Add garlic, then sauté for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and their juices, paprika, and cayenne pepper, if using, then sauté until tomatoes are softened, 3 minutes.
Add rice and hot broth to skillet, then stir to combine and bring to a boil. Place a lid on top, then lower heat and simmer until rice has nearly absorbed all the broth and is just slightly al dente, 13 to 15 minutes. Stir in shrimp and peas, then place lid back on top and let skillet sit off the heat for 5 minutes. Season with more salt and pepper to taste, then serve.
Move over, gazpacho, there’s a new chilled soup in town! We guarantee that your family will devour this Salmorejo, a tomato-based soup served cold in accordance with Spanish tradition. The dish offers a creamier, more intensely flavored alternative to gazpacho, reports Saveur. Suffused with the rich flavors of garlic, tomato, and spices, this piquant soup is a welcome addition to the table, regardless of season. In My Red Kitchen’s recipe takes an hour and 15 minutes to make and yields 6 cups of soup.
- 4 large plum tomatoes (approximately 14 ounces)
- ½ baguette (approximately 5 ounces)
- ½ small yellow onion
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1½ tablespoons kosher salt
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 hard-boiled eggs, crumbled
- 6 slices prosciutto, torn in pieces
Directions: Slice the tomatoes in quarts and remove the seeds and core. Transfer them to a large bowl.
Cut the baguette and the onion in big pieces and add them with the garlic and salt to the bowl.
Stir and cover with boiling water; about 3½ cups should be enough. Leave to soak for an hour, just on the counter.
Prepare a colander with a bowl placed under it to save some of the liquid. Drain the tomatoes and bread. Get a blender ready — transfer the tomatoes and onion to the blender. Squeeze the water from the bread. Add the bread to the blender, as well as ½ cup of the soaking liquid, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and tomato paste. Blend it until smooth and transfer to the big bowl you used for soaking. Add black pepper to taste and some salt, if needed.
Place in the fridge until serving so it can cool off. Serve with the crumbled eggs and prosciutto, and drizzle with some extra olive oil.
4. Tortilla Española
Some of the finest traditional dishes derive from the simplest of ingredients. This is especially true of the classic Tortilla Española (also called a Spanish Omelet). Three Clever Sisters’ recipe calls for five essential ingredients that you may very well have in your kitchen already. After a bit of prep work, combine your ingredients in a skillet to cook up an elegant taste of Spanish cuisine.
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1½ pounds potatoes
- 1 onion
- 6 to 8 eggs
- Kosher salt, to taste
Directions: Peel the potatoes, slice as thinly as possible, and halve or quarter the slices. Do the same with your onion.
Heat the oil in a 10- to 12-inch heavy skillet. Drop a slice of potato into the oil. When bubbles form at the edges, the oil is ready. Add the potatoes and onions all at once and cook over low heat, stirring frequently over a low, gentle heat. Continue to stir frequently, bringing the cooked potatoes up from the bottom and turning the uncooked potatoes into the oil, ensuring that everything cooks evenly. The potatoes will go from opaque to hinting at a shimmering translucence.
When the potatoes are cooked, drain them over a deep plate; reserve the oil. As they cool, crack your eggs into a large bowl and beat them lightly. Pour a few tablespoons of the reserved oil back into the pan and heat. When the oil is hot, dump the potatoes into the eggs, turn them to coat, and pour into the pan. Pat the mixture out evenly over the surface of the skillet.
Place a rack at the top level of your oven and heat the broiler. Cook gently until the tortilla firms up around the edges, then slide under the broiler. Depending on how long your broiler has been preheating, this could take just 2 minutes or up to 5 minutes. Check after 2 minutes and every minute thereafter.
Remove, allow to cool to room temperature in the skillet, slice and serve.
5. Spiced Seafood Stew
Considering Spain is located on a peninsula, it comes as no big surprise that many of the nation’s staple dishes rely on the fantastic flavors of the sea. Memento Bracelet’s Spiced Seafood Stew (or Sopa de Mariscos) captures the essence of Spanish cooking through a fusion of seafoods draped in a thick, spice-infused broth. Each bite is filled with the flavors of saffron, fennel, anise, and more. The decadent broth is punctuated with a variety of fresh seafood items, such as shrimp, salmon, scallops, and more (add all your favorites!). Serve the dish along with crusty bread.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 bulb of fennel, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 sticks celery, thinly sliced
- 2 star anise
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon saffron threads
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 sprigs thyme
- Orange zest of 1 orange
- ½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 cups of chopped tomatoes
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 4 cups fish stock (may be substituted for clam juice)
- ¼ cup orange juice
- 1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 1 pound salmon filet, cut into chunks
- 1 pound fish fillet of your choice, cut into chunks
- 12 scallops
- 12 clams, cleaned
- 12 mussels, cleaned
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Directions: In a large Dutch oven or a heavy-bottomed stock pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onion, celery, and fennel and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add star anise, fennel seeds, saffron, bay leaves, thyme, orange zest, and red pepper flakes and sauté for another 2 minutes.
Add tomatoes with their juices and wine, and cook until reduced by half. Now pour in fish stock and orange juice, bring to boil, and cook for about 10 to 12 minutes.
Lower the heat to medium low and add fish and seafood. Once the stew is simmering, cover with lid and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes.
Turn off the heat and adjust the seasoning. Be mindful of the fact that the seafood is naturally salty when you bite into it. So to keep proper salt balance, it is good to have the soup base a touch under-salted.
Before serving, make sure to remove any unopened mussels and clams. Serve with crusty bread.
6. Serrano and Manchego Sandwich
Classic Spanish eats don’t get much easier than this Serrano and Manchego Sandwich recipe from Fou de Food MTL. The simple sandwich combines Spanish essentials such as savory serrano ham and sharp manchego cheese, enhancing their respective flavors with a simple mix of spices and tomato. For best results, serve on a crusty baguette. You’ll be transported to the heart of Madrid with every bite!
- Serrano Ham
- Manchego cheese, crumbled
- One tomato, finely chopped
- ½ clove of garlic, crushed
- ¼ teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
- Fresh-cracked black pepper
- Fresh baguette
Directions: Mix the tomatoes, garlic, and smoked paprika in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread the tomatoes over both sides of the baguette, layer on the Serrano ham, and top with the crumbled manchego cheese.
7. Authentic Spanish Flan
No Spanish meal would be complete with a spectacularly sweet dessert. One of Spain’s most prized after-dinner confections is the simple custard-based Authentic Spanish Flan. The rich, tender dessert derives from just a few ingredients that you very well may have on hand in your fridge or pantry. Food’s recipe for the dish takes an hour and 30 minutes to make and yields 6 servings.
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
- 1½ cups whole milk
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Sugar or honey, to taste
Directions: Lay out 6 flan molds or 8-ounce shallow dishes out in a row, or you may use a single 9-inch round tart pan or pie plate.
Now, place sugar in saucepan and place directly over medium heat on the stove top. Watch closely and constantly stir. The sugar will brown and turn to liquid. Watch closely and do not allow the sugar to scorch. Remove from heat and distribute the caramelized sugar equally across the bottom of the flan molds. The sugar will almost immediately harden, but once it is baked with the custard, it will liquefy and remain liquid.
In a mixing bowl, combine evaporated milk, whole milk, eggs, and vanilla and whisk together until the eggs are mixed well. While mixing you may add a few tablespoons of sugar or honey to sweeten to taste. Distribute the custard mixture in the flan molds.
Pour about an inch of water into a large roasting pan. Set on an oven rack and then place the molds in the roasting pan. Carefully push in the rack and close the oven door.
Set oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not preheat. Bake for 1 hour. Test for doneness by inserting a knife. If it comes out clean, then the custard has fully cooked.
When done, remove individual flans from roasting pan and place on a rack to cool. Flan can be served slightly warm or chilled in the refrigerator.
To serve, run a knife around the top of the flan where it is connected to the mold. Flip over the mold onto the serving plate and then jiggle the flan loose so that it falls in one piece onto the plate. The caramelized sugar will form a sauce over the flan. There will be hard sugar remaining in the bottom of the molds; do not attempt to scrape this out to add to the sauce. Serve and enjoy!