Many Spanish foods today use the same cooking methods and ingredients, as they did a few hundred years ago. We’ll be exploring Spanish cooking in today.
The mountainous regions made communication and travel difficult in past times, this contributed to the wide range of cuisine found in Spanish foods. Other authentic Spanish recipes sprung up from European and American influences, and were adapted to the Spanish fare. An important factor to remember is that food in Spain tends to be very fresh, abundant, and packed with natural taste.
The most basic food ingredients of most Spanish meals are olive oil and garlic. However, because Spain has very distinct geographical regions, settled by different peoples and cultural groups, the regional cuisines can very different. Many times, the only common ingredients found in meals prepared around various locations, are olive oil and garlic.
Here is a list of typical ingredients and foods commonly used in Spain:
Organic olive oil – Spanish recipes typically need either pure olive oil or lard, but mainly olive oil is used. Extra virgin olive oil is worth the additional cost. Spain is a leading producer of olive oil; and olives are a produce grown over the southern regions of Spain.
Ham – otherwise called, jamón is a prized food.
Fish & Seafood – Because Spain is encircled on three sides by water, fresh seafood is always plentiful in the local markets, and is usually consumed daily. Everything from halibut to shrimp and in many cases octopus is found, as well as on food menus in restaurants.
Cheeses – Wonderful cheeses of many varieties can be found in Spain. Spanish cheeses are made from sheep, cow, goat milk, or a combination between the milk groups. Varieties may be aged cheeses, such as the manchego from La Mancha, the soft creamy cheeses, including tetilla from Galicia, and everything in between. Cheese might be eaten as a tapa (snack), in addition to other meals.
Sausages – Spanish people love sausage, especially chorizo, a pork sausage created using paprika. Again, there are many kinds of chorizo, from fresh and soft in texture, to smoked and aged varieties. Local markets provide a variety to choose from; yet many Spanish families choose to make their favorite kinds of sausage.
Beef, Lamb and Pork – The 3 meats are commonly used, and may be roasted, grilled over the coals, or sautéed in a sauce.
Eggs – Eggs are usually eaten daily, either fried, deviled, or in a Spanish omelet. They are a mainstay ingredient of many recipes, including desserts. They are cooked in a variety of ways.
Vegetables and fruits – Spanish people tend to eat lots of fruit as appetizers, or dessert dishes. A fresh fruit bowl sits in nearly every kitchen. Simple salads and sautéed vegetables are eaten daily. Popular vegetables in many meals are eggplant and zucchini.
Nuts – Spain is a big producer of almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts. Almond-based and milk-based desserts have become very trendy. Turron, the almond nougat candy eaten at Christmas, has become famous. Hazelnuts, are the most popular nuts to be used with chocolate.
Herbs and Spices – Garlic, onions and fresh herbs such as oregano, rosemary and thyme are widely-used in cooking, but garlic is by far, the most popular choice.
Here is a Spanish cooking recipe to try
Mixed Paella Recipe
1 tsp thread saffron
2 red bell peppers, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp paprika
2 medium onions, chopped
8 piquillo peppers, sliced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3 chicken thighs, skinned and cut into 2 inch pieces
12 large shrimp, peeled
12 mussels (or clams)
1 lb Spanish cooking sausage, cut into 1 inch pieces
8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and pepper
2 cups Bomba rice
6 cups chicken broth
In a pot add the chicken stock, saffron and paprika, and heat it over medium heat, covered.
In a large cast iron skillet, brown the chorizo and chicken in the 2 T. olive oil for about 5 minutes. Remove the meat in a bowl, then put the rest of the olive oil into the skillet and cook the onions until they are tender, then add the bell peppers. Add garlic and tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook another 5 minutes.
Add the rice and stir well. Now add the meat back in. Stir the heated broth mixture into the skillet until it is well combined. Now you will stop stirring the dish and simmer for 10 minutes.
One at a time, add the shellfish and shrimp arranging it evenly. Simmer another 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cover with foil. Let it rest for 10 more minutes. Garnish with lemon slices and piquillo pepper slices.
I hope you enjoy Spanish cooking! Until next time.
By Valerie Garner