Did you think that last week’s list was absolutely delicious? Did you have the opportunity to try all the veggie “tapas” I recommended? Then get ready for more to come! Who said Spanish food was just about paella & meat?
6. Salmorejo – Vegetarian cold soup
This is similar to gazpacho but even tastier. Ensure it comes “sin jamón” (without ham), as many versions come with Serrano ham sprinkled on top.
7. Huevos rotos – Fried eggs with potatoes
Simple food at its best. Again ask for “sin jamón, por favor”.
8. Pimientos de padrón – Spicy bell peppers
If you’re the kind of person who likes surprises, this will surely be your tapa of choice. As some peppers are sweet and others spicy, you’re in for a fun ride!
9. Croquetas de espinacas – Spinach croquettes
Croquettes are a must have “tapa”. For veggie enjoyment, as for croquettes “de espinacas” or “de setas” (mushrooms). Yum!
10. Queso Manchego frito – Fried Manchego Cheese
Fried cheese is a commonly found “tapa” in the La Mancha region, home of the Manchego cheese. Try it with some marmalade on the side to maximize the enjoyment. Surely, the perfect end for a veggie “tapas” feast.
Spring has sprung and so we’re kick starting barbecue season. Hooray!
If you, like me, love to add vegetables to any BBQ, here’s a fantastic recipe that has become an all time favorite in my family. This is so simple yet healthy and yummy that I’m sure your gang will love it too.
What you need:
- 1 bunch of asparagus (about 1 pound), trimmed
- 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ounce of Manchego, shaved with a vegetable peeler
- 2 walnuts
- 1 tbs soy sauce
- Salt & pepper
- Heat grill to medium-high.
- In a big bowl, toss the asparagus with the extra virgin olive oil, salt & pepper.
- Grill until tender, about 5 minutes.
- Pour the soy sauce on it
- Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with the Manchego and walnuts.
Nutrition experts keep on telling us that we should include nuts into our daily diet. Apparently, these little wonders are packed with heart-healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals. They’re nature’s way of showing us that good things often come in small packages!
Pairing them with cheese is a good idea for a super healthy snack – great for people with special nutritional needs such seniors, children or pregnant women – or a simple yet delish dessert.
Manchego cheese goes well with different types of nuts. Having tried it in different combinations, I would recommend pairing your Manchego with walnuts, almonds or pecan nuts.
I’ll dedicate this post to the Manchego & walnut combination, my favorite couple from the three mentioned before, and a heavenly combination when made as a trio with a little honey on the top. Yum!
But, why is Manchego & walnuts such a great pair?
The crunchiness of walnuts is a tasty contrast to the texture of the Manchego. Also walnuts have an earthy flavor that compliments the taste of the Manchega sheeps’ milk really well.
Nutritionally, walnuts are great for the heart and arteries. They have high amounts of alpha linoleic acid (ALA), an acid that helps to prevent heart arrhythmias, reducing inflammation and oxidation in the arteries. Great news!
So, what are you waiting for? Do like me: At least twice per week, enjoy a platter of Manchego cheese sprinkled with walnuts and drizzled with Rosemary honey – Health and pleasure on a plate.
Are you enjoying our cheese tasting class? I hope you are.
After getting the basics straight and admiring the visual appearance of the cheese, we now move on to the final part of the tasting, my absolute favorite part, as now it’s time to let your imagination run wild and I can tell you: for good or bad, my imagination has no limits.
What we’re looking for is a description of the flavor of the cheese. In wine tastings, we sniff and savor to come to such a description. With cheese, we can use the following techniques:
- Smell vs. flavor: Like wine, sometimes the scent and flavor are synonymous. Other times, they are complete opposites. Before tasting the Manchego, give it a good whiff and compare the scent to the taste. Are they similar?
- Use basic adjectives: Start with basic flavors to describe the cheese. Is it salty, sweet, sour, or acidic? Manchego cheeses have complex tasting profiles and so you might want to use a combination of these adjectives to describe them.
- What the animals ate: As I said on the first part of these series of articles, the flavor of the milk often shines through and tastes like whatever the Manchega sheep ate, whether it was grass, hay, or wild flowers. Can you appreciate those notes?
- Similes: Does your Manchego smell as a sweaty pair of socks? Does the flavor remind you of a stick of butter or even walnuts? The fun of tasting is to link the cheese to memories of foods or strong smells you’ve experienced. That’s why tasting is such a personal experience.
So how about you? How would you describe your favorite Manchego cheese?
The way we eat is determined by our culture.
The way we eat cheese even more so.
Spaniards usually eat Manchego as a “tapa” or a starter BEFORE lunch. Together with a glass of wine or a beer and accompanied by freshly-baked bread, Manchego brings the perfect flavors to get the taste buds ready for a Mediterranean feast.
French, on the other hand, enjoy cheese AFTER every meal. A tray of fine cheeses normally follows the main course. Sometimes these cheeses are presented as dessert, in which case fresh fruit or/and fruit spreads may go on the side. In other occasions a sweet dessert follows – as for the French sucré must always follow salé.
To make things even more complicated, British would never offer a sweet dessert after the cheese. As they’ve learnt to enjoy cheese with a glass of the rich fortified wine they invented, for them cheese should always mark the end to any bohemian evening.
Then, what should we Americans do? The solution is pretty simple: Let’s take the best of all cultures and enjoy Manchego before and after, day and night.
“Dulce de membrillo” is a quince paste that is the national snack of Spain when paired with Manchego.
Once you’ve tried this combination, you’ll see what all the fuss is about, and you may even want to try your hand at making some.
Quince is a hard fruit that looks like a cross between an apple and a pear. Most varieties can’t be eaten raw, only cooked. They cook up pink and have a wonderful sweet floral aroma so and extra benefit of preparing “dulce de membrillo” is that your home would smell amazing afterwards.
Besides being a great appetizer and a wonderful dessert, Manchego & membrillo also make for a perfect school sandwich. The little ones love the sweetness of the quince paste and we feel good knowing they’re eating all the vitamins and protein they need.
Like apples and pears, quince is in season during fall. Yes, it’s season time!
So go and buy some. Soon I’ll be sharing my grandma’s “dulce de membrillo” recipe and I can tell you won’t regret giving it a go!
In a previous post, I promised you a mouth-watering dish combining Manchego and figs.
I know it has taken long – being the working mom of a 7-month-old adorable monster often complicates my agenda – but yesterday I finally managed to cook this for dinner.
And guess what? The result was so yummy you have to try it to believe me.
Give it a go! This works great both as a dessert or an appetizer, and although super easy, it looks so sophisticated you could even offer it to your most snobbish friends at your next dinner party.
What you need:
- Few fresh figs, stalks removed
- Balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp
- Clear honey, 1 tbsp
- Chopped fresh thyme leaves, 2 tbsp
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Some Manchego cheese, grated
- Using a sharp knife cut a cross into the top of each fig.
- Push the figs down on a chopping board to open them slightly.
- Place the figs in little squares of foil, big enough to make parcels.
- Spoon over the vinegar, honey and thyme, season with salt and pepper.
- Fold the foil over to make little parcels and seal the edges.
- Place the parcels in the oven at medium heat and cook for 8-10 minutes.
- Open the parcels and sprinkle with a generous amount of Manchego.
- Serve and enjoy!