Even if you’ve never been to Spain, chances are you already know its most famous dishes, such as tortilla (the thick, potato omelette), paella (everyone knows paella!), patatas bravas (fried potatoes smothered in a spicy sauce), and jamón ibérico (the classic Spanish ham). Foodies love Spain, with its amazing markets, and incredible variety of fresh produce, which is used in lip-smacking local specialities. We introduce you to lesser known food in Spain – so, give your palate a treat next time you head off on a holiday to the sunny islands and costas with these delicious local specialities!
The best-known Spanish chilled soup is gazpacho, a tasty mix of tomatoes, peppers, onions and cucumber that is perfect for beating the heat. If you’re looking for something a bit different, you could try salmorejo, another chilled soup which is a speciality of Cordoba. It’s another tomato-based soup, which is thickened with breadcrumbs and topped with finely chopped boiled egg and Spanish ham. Delicious!
Escalivada is a classic Catalan dish, made of grilled and peeled aubergines, onions and red peppers, lightly seasoned with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Traditionally, the vegetables are grilled over a barbecue, which gives them a wonderful smoky flavour.
Migas (which means ‘breadcrumbs’) is a traditional dish from the Extremdura region of Spain. It began as a way of using up leftover bread, but it’s become a staple in kitchens and restaurants all over Spain. The breadcrumbs are fried up in olive oil with garlic, chorizo (spicy sausage), and perhaps some peppers or other vegetables, and flavoured with pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika). Depending where you are in the country, they might be topped with a fried egg or even some sardines.
Cocido madrileño is a succulent stew, made with chicken, chorizo (spicy sausage), black pudding, chickpeas and vegetables. These are cooked very slowly for hours, until they are tender and full of flavour. It’s normally served in two or three courses: first, a soup made with the broth, then the chickpeas and vegetables, and finally the succulent meat. Don’t miss it if you’re on a city break to Madrid!
Tarta de Santiago
Spain isn’t known for its desserts, but the delicious almond tart called ‘tarta de Santiago’ is a must-try. This perfectly moist tart uses ground almonds instead of flour, and is delicately flavoured with cinnamon and lemon and/or orange zest, then topped with a dusting of icing sugar. The recipe dates back to the middle ages, when it was a favourite with pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela, and is still decorated with a cross.
Another classic regional stew – this time from Asturias, in the north of Spain – this has earthy, satisfying dish has become popular throughout the country. It’s a perfect winter warmer, and is prepared with the creamy white fabada beans (similar to canelli beans), chorizo (spicy sausage), black pudding, ham hock, bacon, and garlic. These are slow-cooked for hours, until the beans have soaked up the meaty flavours. It’s a perfect winter warmer!
Pulpo a la Gallega
Also known as ‘pulpo a feira’, this succulent octopus dish is from Galicia, but it’s a regular on tapas menus across Spain. It’s a simple dish, which makes the most of the fresh produce typical of Galicia: octopus and potatoes. The octopus is boiled first, then the water is used to cook the potatoes. These are served together in thin slices, with a drizzle of olive oil and a dusting of pimento (slightly smoky Spanish paprika), salt and pepper.
If you’ve been on holiday to the Spanish costas, chances are you’ll have seen platters of little fried fish served up in restaurants. This is a classic Mediterranean dish, which is particularly popular in Andalucia and in the Canary Islands. All kinds of fish are used, including red snapper, mullet and whiting, which are dusted in flour, fried up in olive oil, and served up with a squeeze of lemon.