Spain, with its passionate flamenco and stunning beaches, is famous for being quite a hot country. Spaniards are really warm people, always ready to speak their minds, laugh out loud and cook with their hearts. Luckily, they have developed some refreshing summer dishes to cool the heat down. Spring is almost over and in Madrid we can already feel the temperature rising. This is why at Wabi Host we want to give you some ideas to keep cool this summer in Spain.
Naturally, the most effective way to avoid feeling terribly hot in summer is by eating light dishes with loads of water. Eating fresh vegetables and raw ingredients moisturises the body and keeps us cool. That’s why salads become so popular in summer…well, this and the fact that these tend to be low in calories thus helping us to watch the line.
The problem with salads is that sometimes we struggle to make them filling or interesting. However, a salad does not need to be just lettuce and tomatoes. There is a cornucopia of ingredients to make our salads appetising and nutritious.
As Wabi Host champions Spanish gastronomy, let us give you a few Iberian ideas for your summer salads.
- Ensalada murciana: As its name says, this salad is typical from Murcia in the Mediterranean. It’s made with ripe tomatoes, roasted red peppers, raw onions and cappers. For a protein boost, add some canned tuna in olive oil and season well with white vinegar.
- Ensalada de mar: This “sea salad” is popular in the Mediterranean during the hot summer months. They usually use mussels, prawns grilled squid, mushrooms, raw green peppers and cappers. Season well with good quality extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.
- Salpicón de ave: This salad is great to use some leftover chicken. My mother used to grill some chicken breasts whenever we made a BBQ and saved them for the next day. Shred the chicken breasts and add them to boiled potatoes, ripe tomatoes, gerkins, boiled eggs and olives.
- Remojón granadino: A very interesting dish typical from Granada but clearly left in Spain by the arabs in the Middle Ages. It is a simple salad made with cooked cod fish, thin orange slices, raw onions and olives. Season well with good olive oil and sherry vinegar.
- Ensaladilla: “Russian salad” would be the literal translation to the name of this salad in Spain. It is in fact terribly similar to the Russian Oliviet so we wouldn’t say it is actually a “typical Spanish dish”. Nevertheless, it can now be found everywhere around Spain and indeed in many countries in Latin America, probably left by the Spaniards. It is basically a salad made with boiled potatoes, cooked carrots, peas and all smeared with mayonnaise. Sometimes they add peppers, onions, tuna and/or olives so don’t be surprised if you taste different versions as you travel around Spain.
- Escalibada: Probably best called a “cooked salad” as all ingredients must be roasted before mixing. This typical dish from Catalonia is made prepared with aubergines, onions and peppers roasted and thinly shredded. You the season with generous amounts of olive oil and sea salt.
- Pisto: Since we mention the “escalibada”, it’s worth talking about this side dish made mainly in Castilla La Mancha. Courgettes cooked in olive oil with aubergines, onions, peppers, garlic and ripe tomatoes. You can eat it hot but it’s best eaten cold the day after so the flavours settle.
- Pipirrana: Very curious salad made with cucumber, tomatoes and raw onions. All ingredients must be fresh, ripe and cut in small dice. Excellent quality extra virgin olive oil is a must here so as to honour the province of Jaén, where this dish is originally from.
Surely you have heard about gazpacho. This Spanish staple cold soup is perfect for the hottest weather as it only uses seasonal produce and it rehydrates and cools the body instantly. You might not have heard though about gazpacho’s less know siblings: salmorejo and ajoblanco. These cold soups are also typical from Andalusia and only made in summer. However, the three are very distinct and definitely worth trying.
- Gazpacho: Blend together ripe and juicy red tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper, good vinegar, olive oil and salt. You can make it strong and take it as a drink with ice cubes or add a bit of bread when blending and eat it with a spoon. Some people add diced onions, bread and peppers just before eating.
- Salmorejo: Use the best ripe tomatoes you can find, this is key. Blend them with old white bread, garlic, olive oil and sea salt. This soup should be smooth and thick, unlike its lighter counterpart the gazpacho. Traditionally, you should add diced cured ham and boiled eggs on top just before eating.
- Ajoblanco: This is a very old recipe probably dating back to ancient Rome so don’t be fooled by its humble simplicity, there’s more about this dish than meets the eye. First you have to soak a bunch of raw peeled white almonds in some water. Then blend with white bread but ATTENTION, leave the crust out. Add water, white vinegar, salt and garlic. Some people make it so light you can drink it from a glass. In Almería it seems more like a paste you can spread on some more bread. We like it smooth and creamy to have it as a soup. It is traditionally garnished with green grapes, raisins and/or diced green apples. We suggest trying it with juicy pomegranate seeds or fresh ripe figs.
Wabi Host is aimed at encouraging people to cook more at home so we hope you try making some of these yourself. Please write any questions below and we’ll try to answer all doubts. And for a real Spanish food experience, visit us in Madrid soon!