Home > Cooking with Herbs > Herbs and Recipes for a Spanish Flavour

Herbs and Recipes for a Spanish Flavour

By: Elizabeth Hinds - Updated: 12 Apr 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Spanish Food Herbs Garlic Alioli Olive

The food of Spain is as varied as the many regions of the country. From the mountains of the Pyrenees in the north, to the furthest south where Africa is but a short sea crossing away, the inhabitants have adapted the cooking influences of their neighbours and made them distinctly their own.

A defining feature of Spanish food is the subtlety of taste. Not for the Spaniards the fiery spicy flavours of some cuisines; their preference is for deliciously flavoured food, with each element complementing the others. Fresh meats and sea-foods are to be found abundantly in every town and village, and herbs provide a natural accompaniment not as the star of the meal but playing a vital supporting role. You’ll find them being sold, freshly harvested, in local markets.

Favourite Spanish herbs

Parsley, rosemary, thyme, and bay are the most popular herbs in Spanish households.
  • In Spain, butchers and greengrocers, as a matter of course, add a handful of parsley to your shopping bag. Try blending parsley and garlic with olive oil, extra virgin preferably, for a simple sauce for plain meat and fish dishes.
  • Rosemary has a very strong flavour and is used in small quantities. Stick a few sprigs in a joint of lamb before cooking and brush with olive oil. Use the stripped stems as skewers and add some to your barbecue fire for extra flavour.
  • Like rosemary, thyme grows well in the dry Spanish terrain. Use it to flavour olives or to make your own thyme vinegar or oil. It also goes well with poultry, pork or rabbit.
  • Bay is sold by the branch and can be found hanging in most Spanish kitchens. Use it to flavour slow-cooked stews or infuse it in warm milk for a white sauce.
But if there is one herb that really says ‘Spanish’, it has to be garlic. Rarely will you find a Spanish recipe that doesn’t include a clove or two.

Very garlicky recipes!

Alioli (garlic mayonnaise sauce)

  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • generous pinch of salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • about ½ pint olive oil
  • juice of ½ lemon

Mash the garlic and salt together to make a paste. Gradually whisk in the egg yolks. Add half the olive oil, a drop at a time, beating very well, until you have a soft buttery sauce. Beat in 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Finish beating in the oil. Season and add more lemon juice to taste.

Tostadas (mushrooms on garlic bread)

  • 4 oz mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt
  • 1 teaspoon sherry
  • alioli
  • French bread
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180ºC, gas mark 4.

Wipe the mushrooms, remove the stems and slice thinly. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil and when it’s hot add the mushrooms, salt and sherry. Cover and leave to cook gently for about 10 minutes.

While the mushrooms are cooking slice the bread and place in one layer in a baking tray. Drizzle over 2 tablespoonfuls of oil. Bake for about 8 minutes, turning once.

When their liquid has been released drain the mushrooms. Spread each slice of bread with alioli and top with mushrooms. Replace on the baking tray and grill under a hot heat until the garlic mayonnaise just starts to bubble.

Tapenade (olive and anchovy paste)

  • 400g Spanish pitted black olives
  • 50g anchovy fillets
  • 75g capers
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 dessertspoon lemon juice

Drain the olives, anchovies and capers well. Place all the ingredients in a liquidiser or food processor and whiz until you have a paste with a good spreading consistency. Add more oil if necessary.

Tapenade will store in a sealed jar in your fridge for a couple of months. Spread on toast or use to liven up vegetables.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Cindy
    Re: Cooking with Thyme
    I have german thyme and want to dry and save. My plants when I harvested/pruned them I noticed that some of the stems and leaves are a…
    3 April 2019
  • MaryAnne Sans
    Re: Cooking With and Recipes Using Mint
    Will the mint I planted last year come back this year ?
    17 March 2019
  • MBJ
    Re: Growing Mint
    My mint in containers 3 have it seems got a disease. I am going to put new plants in after i have disgarded plants and soil and disinfected containers.…
    20 February 2019
  • Courtney
    Re: Growing Rosemary
    Top part of rosemary plant is green bottom is brown & dry what to do? And can you use the brown leaves still for cooking? Will new growth return…
    18 November 2018
  • Maggie
    Re: Growing Rosemary
    We have a rosemary plant in a pot on the patio (doing well) that we use for cooking. We have a large herb garden that takes up 1/4 of the garden…
    14 September 2018
  • Kyle
    Re: Growing Bay Leaves
    How tall (approximately) could a 2m potted tree grow if moved to a well drained planter 3m wide (L) , 90cm high (H) and 50cm deep (B) that’s…
    1 August 2018
  • Betty
    Re: Growing Bay Leaves
    My young bay leaf plant in a pot all leaves became pale gree and brittle. What do I do
    12 July 2018
  • Rado
    Re: Forgotten Herbs to Grow: Sorrel, Lovage, Summer Savory, Angelica
    Sorrel is a very common herb in Russia, it's one of the herbs that do well in the…
    4 May 2018
  • HVS
    Re: Growing Rosemary
    I have had two thriving rosemary bushes in my garden for years. Now they are both showing signs of disease - some branches completely dead, others…
    20 April 2018
  • HerbExpert
    Re: Forgotten Herbs to Grow: Sorrel, Lovage, Summer Savory, Angelica
    carolyn - Your Question:Hi I have some growing through the cracks in my barbecue…
    6 April 2018