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Travelling Tastebuds: Spain! Part Dos

Each Tuesday I will be exploring a new location to satisfy my wanderlust while my feet remain firmly planted on Canadian soil. I’m so excited! I hope you’ll join me in these new adventures. 

Buenos dias! Welcome to semana dos of Travelling Tastebuds in Spain! Week one was so good that I had to give Spain a little bit more of my culinary time. So here we are for Tapas Tuesday!

When we first arrived we were tired and thirsty after a long hard day of sightseeing and café hopping. Our weariness must have been obvious, as we were immediately greeted by the cute, smiling bartender with a cold glass of wine. Seasoned as he was, he also didn’t wait for us to decide what tapas to order or how to pronounce them. He simply swung by our section of the bar with these tempting treats.


In his thick accent, he explained what each dish was. Below are salty spiced almonds.
Hungrier than we realized, starting off with this crunchy snack was a welcome treat. Almonds tossed with pimentón, aka sweet paprika, and salt, these are the perfect tapa to recreate at home. I used smoked paprika, as it’s what I already had in the house. The smoky spice brings out the hidden sweetness in the almonds.

Paired with the sea salt, it creates an unexpected flavour to enjoy with that first glass of after-work wine. Of course, we were on vacation, but most patrons were trickling in after work and meeting up with friends for snacks.

Next on our tapas tray was pane con tomate. You got it, smartypants, bread with tomato. So simple. So mindblowing!
Pane con tomate is even better than bruschetta, and I can’t believe I am saying this, as I am a massive fan of the stuff. But this has all the same flavours but without the issue of dropping all the garlicky, tangy tomato mix into your lap. Especially when you’re at the bar. A little decorum, non?
This too is a great tapa to make at home. Slice a baguette (on an angle is always fun) and lightly toast. I just threw the slices under the broiler in the oven for a few minutes on each side. Once they were golden brown, I rubbed them with a peeled clove of garlic and then with a cut tomato. Don’t be nice, get right in there with the tomato so the juice drips all over and soaks into all those nooks and crannies of the bread. Finally, top with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. I’m telling you, especially with Spring just around the corner, and tomatoes soon to be everywhere, you have got to give this a try. A great starter or snack to nibble on a hot night.
Last but not least, habas con jamón.  There are no words, seriously. I mean, just forget about it.
This dish consists of broad beans and jamón simmered in a chicken stock/white wine mixture until all the liquid has been absorbed by the habas.
I love dishes like these: truly tasty, and also truly satisfying. The jamón does it every time, and the beans keep you feeling full without being too full. My travel companions had to order a second helping of this as I inhaled the first one in moments.
When I made this myself at home, of course the one thing I couldn’t find at the store was broad beans! So I used a mixture of green peas (frozen) and green kidney beans, which on the can looked as close as I could get to broad beans. Oh, and I used proscuitto, not jamón.
At first I worried that the ham and stock would be too much, too salty. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The complex starchy flavour of the peas and beans married perfectly with the salty, meaty jamón. A dash of wine cuts the richness of the ham and just makes it all taste like…Spanish heaven. If this is what food in Spain tastes like…what have I been doing here all this time?!


As a result of my spanish experience, I’ve come to the conclusion that tapas are the perfect invention. Originally just a hunk of cheese or meat to serve with alcohol, they have become more and more elaborate and fun. They are very well suited to bar snacking, and you can order as many or as few as you want. Stay at the bar for a dinner made up of many tapas, or just have a little snack to hold you over until dinner at 11 pm. Don’t forget, we’re taking Spain here!

I’ve had the most amazing time taking my tastebuds on this trip to Spain. But it’s time to move on. Where should I go next? Greece? Morocco? Tell me below in the Comments section. It’s your choice this time.

RECIPES

Special thanks goes out to my local library where I found a valuable resource on Spain’s culture and food called, what else? The Food of Spain: A journey for food lovers.

SALTY SPICED ALMONDS (ALMENDRAS)

1 egg white
1/4 tsp sweet paprika (I used smoked and it was wonderful)
500 g whole blanched almonds
1 1/2 tablespoons coarse sea salt

Preheat the over to 235F. In a large bowl, lightly whip the egg white and paprika until mixture starts to froth. Add the blanched almonds and toss to coat.

Divide the nuts between two non-stick baking sheets (I halved the recipe so only needed one–just make sure the nuts are spread in an even layer). Sprinkle with sea salt and toss. Spread out flat on the baking sheet. Baking for 30 minutes turning nuts occasionally to prevent from sticking *This is quite important. I checked them at the halfway point and they were already baked onto the pan. Luckily, the heat is low enough they don’t burn, it’s just tougher to unstick them the longer you wait. Once completely cooled, store in airtight jars.

SERVES 6-8

PANE CON TOMATE

This one’s easy. Slice bread. Toast it. Rub with garlic and tomato, then drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Try not to eat them all before you serve them to your deserving guests. If your guests are worth it, save this dish for your nearest and dearest.

HABAS CON JAMÓN (Broad Beans with Jamón)

20 g butter
1 brown onion, chopped
175 g jamón or prosciutto, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
500 g broad beans (fava beans) or in my case, a mix of green kidney beans and frozen peas
125 ml dry white wine (I used a Pino Grigio)
185 ml chicken stock

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the onion,  jamón and garlic. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring often, until onion softens.

Add the broad beans and wine and cook over high heat until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the stock, reduce heat to medium low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer for another 10 minutes or until beans are tender and liquid has been absorbed/evaporated. Serve hot as a tapas dish with crusty bread or as a side dish.

SERVES 4

*Disclaimer: I don’t want to ruin the fun, but if you’re new to Travelling Tastebuds, you should know that the stories here are entirely fictional, taken from my grandiose travel dreams. The food and recipes, however are real. I’ve got the pot belly to prove it.

Comments (10)

  • Wow, what a post! I’m so glad I stopped by this evening and though I’m still full from dinner, I’m actually craving pane con tomate. I have a feeling that this is one of those dishes that is totally addicting (like I’d be eating these before the guests arrived). Thanks for taking us along with you to Spain again this week…all of the tapas look amazing!

    Reply
  • Oh I agree, tapas are the best invention ever! And these are wonderful Melanie! I’ll have one of each please. Thank you. 🙂

    Did I mention how much I LOVE the travelogues? So fun!!

    Reply
  • These almonds would not last a minute at my place – too tasty 😀
    Great recipes my friend!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    Reply
  • I’m only a recent fan of tapas – this looks great! I’m sure I would become a bigger fan having it in Spain! Thanks for sharing ——

    Reply
    • Bill do you have any favourite tapas? Do you go out for them or make them at home?

      Reply
  • Greece! Honey puffs! Ouzo!

    Reply
  • […] Post navigation ← Travelling Tastebuds: Spain! Part Dos […]

    Reply
  • i just finished reading gail simmons’ book and she lists pane con tomate on her list of perfect foods! i can’t wait for tomato season!

    Reply
    • No way? I’d have to agree. Also I have to agree about tomato season…they are my favourite.

      Reply

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