(Potentially the best tapas plate in Spain!!)
SALSA: (bravas sauce)
Slice the onion and garlic and sauté in olive oil, simmered with the cayenne. Add the tomatoes crushed up, the hot & sweet paprika, salt, and sugar, then simmer for 10 minutes. Add the spoon of vinegar, mix together, and keep warm while you make the potatoes.
Peel the potatoes and cut into equal size cubes, depending how big you want, usually 1/2 inch or so. Heat the frying pan with lots of olive oil and add the cubes of potato (carefully!) once the oil is hot. Turn the heat to low and fry until soft and cooked through, then remove the potatoes. Reheat the pan again until the oil is very hot, then re-add the cooked potatoes and fry until crisp and crunchy. Drain them from the oil.
Serve hot, with the patatas in a bowl or small plate and pour the salsa overtop. YUM.
In a large pan, cook the cubes of ham (or heat them up if pre-cooked) and sauté the onion. Once the meat is soft, smells good, and is leaking delicious juices, stir in all the vegetables. You can add more of what you like (or change up the veggies, such as adding red pepper or cauliflower); my host mother added lots of peas and not as many artichokes, but it's all about eye-balling and tasting. Cook / heat the veggies in the fat from the meat and with a splash of olive oil. Carmen doesn't add flour, her's is very fresh and light, but in the traditional recipe you can shake in some white flour to thicken the sauce and make it more stew-like.
Menestra is a Spanish vegetable stew, it was very home-y and warm and filling, and is also very healthy, so it's loved by Spanish mothers! It can range anywhere from soup-like (lots of broth) to simply a plate of sautéed veggies in sauce. Carmen's was right in the middle of the spectrum. There is also the option to make this vegetarian and opt out of using any meat.
Purée all the vegetables in a blender. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and spices, tasting until the balance seems right. Refrigerate! Serve chilled with hearty wheat bread, she chooses an artisan 7 grain (❤❤) from a bread store down the road, served warm but soft, not toasted or crispy. Carmen (my host mother) breaks the bread into crouton-esque pieces and drops them all in the soup whereas Joaquin (host father) uses the bread as a sponge for his last few bites. I like to do both, the bread is just so damn good.
Traditionally served as an appetizer or light meal.
After cooking and cooling the vegetables, combine everything into a large bowl. Chill in the refrigerator, stir occasionally to let the flavors combine. Serve chilled or room temperature on soft bread or a bed of lettuce! Makes a great snack, appetizer, or light meal.
Although this is called "Russian" salad, it is a very traditional Spanish dish, especially as a cold bite in the summertime. It's like a spanish version of our potato salads at cookouts and BBQs. She always keeps a bowl of homemade ensaladilla in the fridge, but I've seen pre-prepared versions in grocery stores all over Spain!
If you know how to make a basic omelet, you can make this dish very easily! Heat the oil in the pan, and add the onions and potatoes, cooking until soft. Drain out any excess oil, and add the eggs, with a bit of salt and pepper. (The traditional tortilla española has just these ingredients, but you can add anything you like to make the tortilla of your choice. One of my favorites is the vegetable tortilla that Carmen makes, where she adds a variety of sautéed or pre-cooked vegetables that she has in the house, such as jarred white-asparagus.) Cook the egg until light brown on one side, and flip the entire thing using the lid of the pan when ready.
Ah, the tortilla española, one of the most classic and well-known dishes of Spain. It's basically just a thick omelet, except here it is eaten as the main meal for lunch or dinner, not as a breakfast food. Many bars and restaurants also serve it as a tapa, offered with the name "pincho" or "ración" of the tortilla, which is usually just a small slice or bite.
In a cold glass, pour about half a chilled beer and an equal part of chilled Gaseosa and *voilà* you have a Clara. It's lighter and sweeter than beer, which is perfect in the summer before meals.
Ensalada de Carmen
After the chicken is fully cooled, mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl until it's all fully coated in salsa rosa -- it technically is a "salad" but the salsa rosa makes it more of a creamy salad than a mixed salad with dressing. I didn't put measurements because it depends how much you want to make, but there should be about an equal mix of pineapple and chicken with more lettuce. Enjoy :)