So many countries of the world praise the cuisine of their southern regions, and Andalucía is no different. Summer is when we hit the beaches, spend hours slowly grazing our way through tapas menus, and bask in the Spanish sunshine at our favourite chiringuitos.
Article by Victoria Wood
The seasonal menu leans towards refreshing, light, local, with lashings of seafood. Read on to get to know the top summer dishes of southern Spain, and we’ve even thrown in a must-have drink for those balmy afternoons.
The idea of cold soup still has many Europeans in a bit of a head spin when trying to get to grips with the role reversal. Soup is supposed to warm you up, right? Well, yes this is true in winter months or in colder climes, however, a chilled, fresh, healthy, liquid lunch can be utterly satisfying and refreshing…here are the top three:
Ajoblanco – a Malagueñan favourite, the ajoblanco soup is as it translates – ‘white garlic’. The ingredient list includes garlic, bread, crushed almonds, water, olive oil, salt and often vinegar. The dish is served with either grapes or chilled cubes of melon to compliment the flavour and refresh the palate.
Salmorejo – the famous Gazpacho’s lesser known cousin, Salmorejo is a slightly thicker consistency due to the addition of bread to the mix. It is also usually served with crumbled hard-boiled egg and diced jamon serrano. The other difference is traditionally salmorejo contains only the tomato as its fruit and veg content.
Gazpacho – one of Spain’s most traditional and famous dishes, Gazpacho is a cool blend of ripe tomatoes, green peppers, garlic, cucumber, olive oil and vinegar. The condiments it tends to be served with are often a range of the ingredients themselves – diced cucumber, peppers, and sometimes onion to add texture.
Salads are still a side dish here but the fascinating variations that have evolved in Andalucía are inventive and resourceful using local, seasonal produce.
Ensalada de pimientos (Red Pepper Salad) – This is a legendary salad that you will find on the majority of menus in the south of Spain. The red peppers are pre-roasted to get that sweet, succulent and smoky flavour, then chilled and topped with onion, olive oil, vinegar, cumin, and oregano. Some restaurants will add tuna flakes to the salad so vegetarians be aware!
Ensalada Mixta (Mixed Salad) – this has to be THE salad, the one that will be given out as standard at any table in any corner of the southern regions of Spain. It is relatively simple but remains true to its ingredients everywhere. Lettuce, tomato, onion, carrot, sweetcorn, tuna, and often white asparagus. Perfect!
Ensalada Malagueña (Malaga Salad) – A traditional cold dish from Malaga which casts orange, boiled potato, hard-boiled egg, spring onion and olives as its major players. This is a colourful, healthy salad to which often (desalted) cod is added. This adds to the fulfilment factor and can serve as a whole, light meal on a summer’s evening.
Pipirrana – A traditional peasant dish from Andalucía’s farming community – generally put together with whatever was being locally grown at the time. Today’s recipe will more often than not consist of chopped tomatoes, cucumber, peppers (red, yellow & green), onion, carrot and chives, and often embellished with olives and hard-boiled eggs. The dressing will tend to be a simple olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper combination. A very fresh, crunchy, light and healthy addition to compliment any meal.
Sardinas Espetos (Sardine Skewers) – there is nothing that says summer in Spain better than Sardines cooked on a skewer over a fire in an old row boat! Literally meaning sardines on a spit, the little fish are lined up on a rigid skewer and slotted upright straight over hot coals in sand-filled boats. You’ll find these wherever you find a beach restaurant and they are absolutely worth trying. Once you’ve tasted these crispy-skinned, salty, fresh fish you’ll never look back.
Boquerones al vinagre (Anchovies in vinegar) – a lovely light tapa dish with a punch, anchovies in vinegar is another classic dish in the south. Served as they come marinaded in vinegar, oil, garlic and herbs. Lay a couple of the little fish on a hunk of Andalucían bread and mop up those divine juices.
Ensalada de Pulpo (Octopus Salad) – just an absolute must. The delicate flavour of the chopped, chilled octopus combined with oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and crisp, fresh onion and herbs, is a true delicacy here. When it is done right, it is melt-in-the-mouth amazing!
And of course, to finish – no Spanish summer would be complete without a jug of famous Sangria or a cool, tall drink of Tinto de Verano.
Sangria – The traditional version features red wine, orange juice, a good splash of sweet wine, lemon juice, cinnamon stick, sugar, pieces of fruit such as peach, orange, apple, etc. all served over ice in a tall pitcher.
Tinto de Verano (summer wine) – Similar to Sangria but far simpler and lighter on the alcohol content, tinto de verano is a very popular, refreshing drink served in the summer months in Spain. It is again, red wine based but with just a top up of lemon soda or ‘casera’ (sweetened soda water), ice and a slice of lemon.
That’s all for now, I need to get to the local chiringuito and fill myself full of many of the above! Of course there are many more delightful delicacies to be tried and tested but make sure all of the above are on your checklist this summer. ¡Buen provecho!