Classic Spanish Peasant Recipes | The Pimsleur Language Blog -

Classic Spanish Peasant Recipes | The Pimsleur Language Blog


Cooking from Your Pantry with Traditional Spanish Recipes

When you
think of Spanish cooking, what comes to mind? Chorizo, paella, olives? What
tends to be forgotten is that Spain is divided into 17 different regions, each
of them with their own history and culture. Spanish food is vastly different
depending on where you are. Many of these regions have their own traditional
peasant recipes that date back centuries- and are still found in Spanish kitchens
today.

Most of us are currently trying to reduce our trips to the grocery store. After spending this past year teaching abroad in Spain, I also had to work on maintaining my budget for food. One of the best ways to eat well was to cook like Spaniards. Use few but hearty ingredients to make delicious, flavorful meals.

Espinacas con Garbanzos

Espinacas con Garbanzos Recipe Classic Spanish Peasant Food
Photo via Goya Foods

This recipe traveled from the Middle East to Spain in the 12th century and has carried on serving Spaniards since due to the practicality of the ingredients. Spinach and chickpea stew is considered a tapa recipe from Seville, Spain. It is really filling and uses pantry items such as garbanzo beans, vinegar, and bread.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1 bag of spinach
  • Cubed day-old bread
  • 15 unsalted almonds
  • ¼ cup of tomato sauce
  • 3 cloves of chopped garlic
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tb. of sherry or red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Salt and pepper

Steps: 

  1. In a saucepan, heat oil on medium-high, then add spinach. Sauté the spinach until wilted.
  2. Place spinach in a colander to strain. Add more oil to your ban and add bread cubes and almonds. Fry until browned and slightly hard. Add your garlic, cumin, cayenne, and black pepper until the garlic browns.
  3. In a blender or food processor add the vinegar, and then blend into a paste. You can also use sherry instead of vinegar- sherry is another ingredient that is commonly mentioned in Spanish history and culture.
  4. Return to the saucepan and add the beans and tomato sauce. Stir in medium heat until mixed.
  5. Add the spinach and mix together. Your stew should be hot before serving.

Season with salt, pepper, and paprika. If you want, drizzle olive oil on the top.

Tortilla de Patatas Recipe

Traditional Spanish Peasant Recipes
Tortilla de Patatas

Spanish omelet is one of the most famous dishes in Spain. Whether the original recipe includes onions or other vegetables is a heated debate among Spaniards. The origins of this simple and hearty dish are mostly unknown, but it is speculated to be popularized around the 18th century.

In Spain, tortilla is typically eaten during the daytime. If served as a tapa it is on a skewer, and if eaten for a meal it is served with bread, tomato, or a salad. 

Ingredients:

  • 2
    lbs of potatoes
  • Salt
    and pepper
  • 8
    eggs
  • 1
    large white onion
  • Olive
    oil

Prep:

Peel and thinly slice the onion and potatoes.

Step 1:

Put oil in a skillet, then potatoes and onion. Fry until tender. In a large or medium bowl, beat the eggs together. Drain the oil from the onions and potatoes, then add to the egg mixture.

Step 2:

Warm oil in two pans, one should be slightly smaller than the other. You can use the same pan as before. Pour the egg mixture into the smaller pan and let the eggs set. Drain any oil from the larger pan and then place it on top of the smaller pan. Lock them together and flip the pan over to cook on the other side.

The tortilla should be golden brown. Remove from heat, and flip the tortilla into a serving dish.

For Snacking:

Pa amb Tomàquet/ Catalan Tomato Bread Recipe

This easy recipe is a staple of Catalonia. Simply rub garlic and ripe tomato on grilled or toasted bread, sprinkle with a bit of salt, drizzle with olive oil, and enjoy with coffee, beer, or cheese. Pretend you are enjoying this on a beach in Barcelona.

Pa amb Tomàquet  Catalan Tomato Bread Recipe
Photo credit: Marco Verch. Katalanische Spezialität Pa amb tomàquet

Interesting Food Traditions in Spain:

The History of Tapas:

The history of tapas varies between different regions.

The most popular story is that in the 13th century, while the Wise King Alfonso X, was recovering from an illness, he was prescribed wine and small portions of food between meals. The king recovered and declared that every household should serve food with alcohol to prevent drunkenness. The word tapas translates to “cover,” indicating that the small portions of food were placed on top of a drink.

Another story is that bartenders in Seville would cover their patron’s drinks saucers to prevent flies from going in. They realized that they could serve olives, ham, and cheese on top of the saucers, and continued to do so once customers showed their appreciation by frequenting the bar.

Siesta:

A siesta is a short nap taken in the middle of the afternoon, after a mid-day meal. In today’s Spanish working culture, it is also a time to have a drink, coffee, or a smoke with friends. Most of Spain’s eating habits center around the work schedule, so the time between meals is spread out during the day.

“¡Salud!”

This translates to “Cheers!” in Spanish. It means health, and can also be used when someone sneezes.  

“Toma un café”

It is common for Spaniards to use the term “take a coffee” when making plans to meet. This does not always mean to drink coffee, but to designate time to catch up.

Good luck cooking! ¡Salud!

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