Tapas means a small dish. Usually it is a quarter of a portion, but many times it also refers to something that is not available in portions. You don’t eat a whole plate of cheese or cured ham at once. Tapas is a Spanish snack.
During lunch hour you see locals gathering at tapas bars with friends for having a glass of red wine or caña (a small beer), some cured Spanish ham, jamón and Manchego cheese. Finest jamón is called pata negra which translates to “black hoof” and it’s usually cured between 24 to 48 months. This is traditional Spanish way of preserving meat and it was the only way in the old days. It is served in thin slices and it takes years of training in order to be able to cut them perfectly from the whole pork legs.
Manchego is made of sheep milk and it is aged for long as well. Typical Manchego cheese is aged between 2 to 12 months. And the price goes together with the aging period. First Manchego cheese is cut in sectors and then cut in triangle slices. When served, the cheese must be in room temperature. Usually in tapas bars they don’t even put the cheese in the fridge – it is stored in under a cover on tapas counter. Depending on your preference you may enjoy it as it is or put some extra virgin olive oil and some ground pepper on top.
Many times these types of tapas is served with bread sticks. Once we’re at a tapas bar, the bread sticks came with pesto cream cheese and this combination turned out to be absolutely wonderful! In the picture above we have some home made pesto (see our recipe for Tuna Steak Salad with Green Pesto to make the pesto). Mix it well with cream cheese and you’re done!
When you hear someone talking about “Spanish Restaurant” the first thing that pops in your mind is a steak and red wine from Rioja. Spanish cuisine is a lot more than that. And it’s not only Spanish cuisine, it’s more Mediterranean cuisine which is all about fresh vegetables, olive oil, Serrano ham (jamón Serrano) and so on.
We originally discovered the recipe for Jamón Salad from El Corte Inglés customer magazine couple years ago. It’s a simple dish, yet very tasty! Saltiness of cured ham is surrounded by creaminess of camembert cheese while salted nuts give flavor and texture to the salad.
Ingredients for Serrano Ham Salad with Camembert for 4 Servings
1 romaine lettuce (or just plain lettuce) – lechuga romana
1 cucumber – pepino
1 box of cherry tomato – tomates cherry
1 yellow paprika – pimiento amarillo
salted nuts – frutos secos con sal
200 g (10 oz) of camembert cheese – queso camembert
200 g (10 oz) of Serrano ham – jamón Serrano
50 g (3 oz) sun dried tomato – tomate secado al sol
basilica leaves – albahaca
extra virgin olive oil – aceite oliva extra virgen
Jerez vinegar (or balsamico or truffle oil) – vinagre de Jerez
salt – sal
ground black pepper – pimienta negra
If the sun dried tomato is not packed in oil, you may have to let them rest in a glass of water for about an hour. Cut ingredients so that they are easy to eat with fork only. Splash some olive oil and vinegar on top of the salad and season with basilica leaves, salt and pepper. This dish goes very well with both red and white wines. And why not with rose as well! Serve with freshly baked bread.