From grilled vegetables to hearty paellas to refreshing sangria recipes, Spain is home to many of Europe’s great culinary treasures. Of course, there’s nothing more quintessentially Spanish than authentic paella recipes—vibrantly spiced rice dishes with meat and/or seafood traditionally cooked in a shallow pan over an open flame. But you can capture the taste of Spain so many ways: saffron is a vital component, while tomatoes, garlic, and onion are all typical.
One of the most traditional protein combinations is rabbit and snails. Seafood paellas are also common—try our version with monkfish, squid, and langoustines. Spain has a rich tradition of chilled soups, like classic, summer-in-a-bowl gazpacho Andaluz—a no-cook soup of perfect, ripe in-season tomatoes, cucumber, garlic, and bread. Salmorejo is a close cousin of gazpacho—topping it with boiled eggs and jamon iberico gives it a savory richness.
Wines, including fortified wines and sherries, are the lifeblood of Spain, and don’t forget about the wine cocktails. Sangria is a refreshing wine drink made with fruit, brandy, and seltzer. Kalimotxo is an incredibly simple wine cooler that sounds lowbrow but is totally delicious—it’s a simple mix of dry red wine and cola. Find these dishes and more with our best Spanish recipes.
Maricel E. Presilla’s Fish with Escabeche Sauce (Pescado en Escabeche)
The cooks of Islamic Spain, or Al-Andalus, like the Romans before them, had a penchant for using vinegar-and-olive oil pickling sauces, or escabeches, to flavor and preserve everything from fish to vegetables. The technique survived the demise of Al-Andalus in Spain, as well as in many former Spanish colonies. In my native Cuba, escabeche was synonymous with sierra (sawfish), much appreciated for its firm, white flesh. You could go to any cafeteria or restaurant and always find on the countertop a large earthenware cazuela filled with fried sawfish steaks topped with an olive oil-and-vinegar pickling sauce. Cuban escabeches often resemble contemporary Iberian models, simply seasoned with garlic, sliced yellow onion and bell pepper, and some bay leaf. Because escabeches start with a sofrito, the iconic Spanish and Latin American flavor base subject to infinite permutations, it is not surprising to see that escabeches, too, vary tremendously across Latin America. But vinegar and olive oil remain the backbone of this singular, ocean-spanning technique. —Maricel E. Presilla Get the recipe for Maricel E. Presilla’s Fish with Escabeche Sauce (Pescado en Escabeche) »
For his riff on the classic Spanish wine-based drink, Jon Santer of Prizefighter in Emeryville, California, layers on more fruity flavors with French apéritif Lillet Rouge and the orange cognac-based liqueur Grand Marnier. Get the recipe for Red Sangria »
Whether it’s juicing grilled limes into margaritas, charring tomatoes for bloody marys, or making this reimagined sangria with caramelized fruits, grilling your drinks will add smoky depth to every sip. Get the recipe for Grilled Sangria »
Vermouth adds character to this Stateside riff on the elaborate Spanish-style gin tonic, while a tonic water flavored with bitter lemon balances the aromatized wine’s sweetness. Navy-strength gin stands up to them both. Get the recipe for Los Gintonic »
Hierba Gin and Tonic
At Spanish-born chef José Andrés’ U.S. restaurants, including the Washington, D.C.– and Las Vegas–based tapas bars called Jaleo, at least ten different variations on the gin and tonic are served. One of our favorites is this pretty version that’s dressed with whole pink peppercorns, citrus, and rosemary. A dry gin lets the aromatic garnishes shine. Get the recipe for Hierba Gin and Tonic »