I’ve recently returned from a lovely week in Mallorca and consequently have acquired my usual post-Mallorcan taste for Spanish cuisine. It is surprisingly easy and fabulous in hot weather. I love to browse the market on a Sunday morning in Pollensa and taste the delicious olives. I was impressed by the Spanish Olives stand at a recent food festival and the Queen olives are particularly good – widely available in most supermarkets and delis (and of course at food festivals!)
Padron peppers are a great starter; so quick and easy to prepare. Just wash and dry the peppers, (make sure you dry them well) and fry them gently in some olive oil (not extra virgin, just normal olive oil) and when cooked sprinkle with sea salt. Yum! Padrons are pretty widely available here in the UK – they are currently stocked by Lidl and often available at our local greengrocer Paul Cooper (who can also order them for you, given 24 hour’s notice)
Paella is such an easy thing to make – and you can include whatever you like, as there are no hard and fast rules. Depending on the region of Spain, paellas can be all fish or fish and meat, often rabbit. You can add your own mix of onion, peppers, peas, sweetcorn, olives or whatever veg you have available. There is a controversy about whether to include chorizo (I always do as I love any excuse to cook with chorizo!). The one thing that is crucial though, is to use a good Bomba paella rice – It’s short-grain rice cultivated in the eastern parts of Spain. It absorbs liquid very well, but stays quite firm during cooking and is by far the best for paella. I confess to cheating and buying sachets of paella seasoning when I’m in Mallorca, as they are so easy to add to the rice and stock. The other key ingredient is smoked paprika, available in most supermarkets (and also stocked by Ralph’s – the fab Spanish deli and wine shop in Whitton High Street). To be honest, you shouldn’t really need a recipe for paella as it is easy and fun to experiment with, but if you do, check out the BBC Good Food website here
Spanish desserts don’t inspire me much as they are often lemon meringue pie or ‘flan’ (which is crème caramel). I’m much more excited about the lovely cheeses and I love tasting the various quesos in the markets in Mallorca – ‘picante’ being my preference as it is the aged cheese and extra delicious. A good chunk of Manchego with lovely fresh cherries, grapes or plums makes the ideal end of the meal for me.