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Guide to Spanish Dishes

The fun opportunity to sample lots of different dishes, from fresh seafood to delicious cured meat, makes tapas incredibly popular with locals and Spanish holidaymakers alike. Tapas is the traditional (and best) way to dine, as Spain’s culinary delights are so varied and delicious. So don't just order the Paella – we've partnered with blogger and Spanish enthusiast Molly, author of Piccavey, to bring you ten unmissable Spanish foods to sample from the menu on your villa holiday. What's more, each dish can also be found in non-tapas restaurants and bars, and you'll find them for sale in local food markets.

Top Spanish Dishes You Need To Try

Tortilla Espanola

1. Tortilla Espanola

Spanish omelette is made using potato, eggs and olive oil. Many variations add plenty of onion too. Its deliciousness lies in its simplicity, with no chorizo, red peppers or other additions. Other kinds of omelettes include tortilla francesa and tortilla de espinacas, but the traditional Spanish omelette can’t be beat. Tortilla Espanola can be enjoyed hot or cold, and it’s said that the dish originated in Bilbao, although you can find it all across the bars and restaurants of Spain.

Patatas Bravas

2. Patatas Bravas

These Spanish potato wedges are served with a fiery red tomato sauce. Similar to thick-cut chips, they are a great accompaniment to other dishes and perfect for sharing as part of your tapas meal. Each bar has its own recipe, with some spicier than others, so try as many different types as you can and see which you prefer.

 Gazpacho, Salmorejo and Ajoblanco

3. Gazpacho, Salmorejo and Ajoblanco

These are three typical cold soups, which are served in the summer months. Although cold soup many not sound enticing at first, these dishes are delicious when temperatures reach 30°C (or even higher). The soups are a fresh alternative to salad and will hydrate you on a Spanish summer day. Gazpacho is usually made from tomato and cucumber, but has several regional variations. Ajoblanco is rather different, consisting of a creamy mixture of garlic and locally-sourced almonds, typically from the regions of Granada and Malaga.

Churros with chocolate dip

4. Churros (with chocolate)

Delicious thick drinking chocolate and crispy fried dough (churro) is a typical sweet breakfast in Spain. It’s also great for an afternoon snack on cooler or rainy days. Churros are a treat when meeting up with friends and the perfect comfort food. Locals tend to save this sweet breakfast for weekends, but when visiting Spain, many people enjoy churros with chocolate and a cup of coffee.

Jamon iberico

5. Jamon iberico

The best ham available in Spain, jamón ibérico is produced with 100% Iberian-bred pigs, fed exclusively on acorns. Usually from the Extremadura and Andalusia regions, this ham is a must for any foodie visiting Spain. You can also buy flat vacuum-packed slices to take home with you after your holiday, as a gift for friends and family.

Chistorra

6. Chistorra

Often served as part of a montadito (a type of tapas-sized sandwich), this Navarra sausage is delicious with white bread. Look out for this when you are any local bar or restaurant in Spain. Especially popular in the Basque Pintxo bars in northern and north-western Spain, you can try buying chistorra from a local food market and making your own version of montadito back at your villa.

Croquetas

7. Croquetas

Fried, golden croquetas or 'croquettes' are usually filled with a creamy sauce and often with ham. However, there are lots of variations, including fillings of cheese, mushrooms, vegetables or meats. Croquetas are a favourite with families, too, as they are easy to eat and enjoyed by everyone.

Spanish cheese

8. Spanish cheese

There are hundreds of varieties of Spanish cheese. Look out for the 23 varieties with protected origin (PO) for the best quality. Some of the more well-known ones include Manchego, from La Mancha in Central Spain. Try Manchego cheese with quince paste (Membrillo) as a delicious tapas. Also worth looking out for are Payoya, from Andalusia, which is made from Goats cheese in Cadiz, and Torta de Casar, which is a rich creamy cheese made from sheep’s milk in Extremadura.

Empanada gallega

9. Empanada gallega

A type of Cornish pasty, empanada gallega is a pastry stuffed with meat, fish and vegetables. One of the most popular combinations is tuna with red peppers, or empanada de atun, in Spanish.

Paella

10. Paella

Arguably the most well-known Spanish dish, you may well have tasted paella before. That said, we just had to include it, as tasting paella in Spain is an experience that’s hard to beat. The regions of Valencia, around the Levante, are most famous for their paella, which is generally eaten at lunchtime by the locals, who rarely eat rice in the evening.

The name “paella” is not actually the after the food, but the word for the flat pan used to make it. There are many variations of paella; some contain fish, seafood, meat and vegetables, or any combination of these ingredients. Other typical Spanish rice dishes are Arroz Negro, which is made with squid.

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