This month we’re virtually warming up a bit by heading to the south of Spain – Andalucía. This is tapas central, with the main cities of Seville, Cordoba, Malaga, Granada, and Cadiz, beautiful, hilly countrysides, and a diverse culinary history that leads to all sorts of deliciousness.
We’ve got an assortment of 6 different ingredients that each show up quite a bit in the region’s dishes, and some, like sherry vinegar and bay leaves, that stretch far beyond.
Here's what's in the box:
* Gran Reserva Sherry Vinegar (Arvum)
* Córdoba Blend (Spice Tree Organics)
* Selected Bay Leaves (Daphnis and Chloe)
* Salsa Brava (Tapas Sauces)
* Salsa Sevillana (Tapas Sauces)
* Organic Quince Paste (Matíz)
With these ingredients plus a few others you likely already have access to (smoked pimentón, garlic, salt and pepper, tomatoes), you'll be in pretty great shape for a whole lot of tapas. Here are a couple collections of recipes for broader inspiration.
Gran Reserva Sherry Vinegar (Arvum)
This is one of the finest sherry vinegars available. Aged for at least 10 years in oak barrels (with some from much older barrels!) this is a special vinegar that will go a long way. It’s wonderful in a salad dressing, of course, but a few drops can also be beautiful to finish anything from roasted vegetables to soups and more.
Sherry vinegar is a crucial ingredient (along with almonds) in ajo blanco, the classic soup also known as white gazpacho found all across the region. Here's a great recipe from Serious Eats. One additional technique I've seen is to quickly boil (and drain) the almonds and garlic a couple of times prior to the blending step to make the nuts blend more easily and mellow out the garlic.
I also love a splash of this vinegar at the end of either a) oven-roasting vegetables or b) pan-sauteing them. Take a small taste of this against anything else you've got in your pantry -- you'll really notice the difference.
Córdoba Blend (Spice Tree Organics)
Our friends at Spice Tree Organics made this one just for us – a special blend to honor the Moorish heritage of Andalucía (Córdoba was the Moorish capital). This blend is designed as a wonderful meat (or tofu) rub, especially for use in the traditional tapa “pinchos morunos.” For that, simply mix together the rub, salt, olive oil, and lemon (or vinegar) with whatever you want to grill, let marinate for a couple of hours, and cook to desired done-ness!
I also used this as a base rub for sous vide steak, and added more to sauteed vegetables which, along with the liquid from the steak bag, I used as a pan sauce with bucatini.
Selected Bay Leaves (Daphnis and Chloe)
While these Bay Leaves don’t come from Spain (they’re Greek!), they’re often called for in the region’s cooking, and we’re such big fans of Daphnis and Chloe that it seemed okay to hop a couple peninsulas over for the sourcing on this one. These are organically grown on the Ionian Sea, and they won’t disappoint.
Bay leaves often show up in any brothy recipe from the region -- for instance, Paella -- and these are obviously useful far beyond.
Salsa Brava (Tapas Sauces)
Patatas bravas might be the most ordered tapa in Spain – a go to for any group outing. It’s essentially crispy fried potatoes with a lovely, semi-spicy, creamy, tomatoey sauce on top. This jar takes complete care of the sauce (just warm it up and spread across the potatoes).
For those crispy potatoes, here's a "recipe," though I wouldn't bother peeling the potatoes -- simply cut into chunks, fry, remove and let cool, then fry again (basically, you're making french fries, just cut into chunks instead of strips). And you can reuse the oil many times over.
This sauce would also be great as a dipping sauce for other crispy/fried items, too.
Salsa Sevillana (Tapas Sauces)
This one will take just a *smidge* more work. Based on the classic dish solomillo al whiskey which is popular in Seville (literally, pork loin with whiskey) this is a garlic and white wine sauce that also works straight out of the jar. Simply pan fry whatever protein you want to use, set it aside, warm the sauce up (adding a bit of whiskey if you’re so inclined!), combine, and devour with crusty bread.
Organic Quince Paste (Matíz)
Known in Spain as membrillo, you’ll often see quince paste on cheese boards, or even bocadillos (little sandwiches) with some jamon and manchego. We tested several quince pastes for this box, and Matíz’s was the clear winner. Dig in and enjoy!