TOP 10 VEGETARIAN TAPAS (part I)

Manchego Cheese tapaSpain has lots of delicious tapas”, but a healthy chunk of them involve meat. True, being a vegetarian in Spain is not that common and may draw lots of weird looks. However, it’s entirely doable and enjoyable!

If you’re vegetarian and are planning a holiday in Spain, arm yourself with two short phrases: “lleva carne?” (does it have meat?) and “sin carne, por favor” (without meat, please) and take note of the below list of vegetarian “tapas”, all of them commonly found everywhere in Spain:

1. Aceitunas – Olives

Olives are fantastic in Spain. They come in all type of varieties and flavors. If you’re strict vegetarian just beware of the ones stuffed with anchovies.

2. Pan con tomate – Toast with olive oil & tomato

A humble, yet tasty and delish, dish. Being originally from Catalonia, it’s nowadays found pretty much everywhere in Spain.

3. Queso Manchego

Of course, this has to be our preferred veggie “tapa”! Ask for it with some “membrillo” (quince) on the side, and get ready for an out-of-this-world experience.

4. Patatas bravas y alioli – Fried potatoes with salsas

For complete enjoyment, wash these “patatas” down with a “caña” (small glass of beer).

5. Tortilla española – Spanish omelette

This has to be the basic vegetarian go-to dish. Just make sure it’s homemade and slightly moist in the center – dry and hard “tortillas” are awful, believe me.

Want to know more delicious veggie “tapas”? Then watch this space!

QUICK & TASTY RECIPES #10 – Watercress salad with red grapes & Manchego cheese

Watercress salad & manchego cheese

Still looking for the perfect starter? You’ve found it here! Watercress salad with red grapes and, of course, our favorite cheese: Manchego. You won’t be able to resist it! 

What you need:

  • 6 ozs watercress
  • 30 red grapes
  • 5 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 (1/2-pound) piece Manchego cheese
  • 2 tbsps of almonds (toasted)
  • 1 tbsp red onionManchego Cheese salad
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Take the red grapes and the tomatoes, wash, dry and cut them in half and then in half again.
  2. Use a food processor: add 20 chopped grapes, the red onion, vinegar, honey and olive oil to make the dressing.
  3. Marinate the 10 grapes left with 2 tbsp of dressing for 10 minutes.
  4. Cut the Manchego cheese in slices.
  5. Cut the almonds in Manchego cheeseslices and toast them.
  6. Place the watercress in a bowl with the tomatoes, the marinated red grapes and the almonds. Drizzle the prepared dressing all over the salad.
  7. Top the salad with some slices of Manchego cheese.
  8. Enjoy! 

QUICK & TASTY #9 – Green salad with Manchego & walnuts

Manchego cheese saladContinuing with the string of tasty and healthy recipes with Manchego, today I bring you a salad that – unlike others – is full of personality.

The gutsy contrast of assertive greens with the sweet caramel, the slivers of Manchego, the wild raddish and the walnuts; will surely impress your guests.

What you need:

  • 1 head of green or red leaf lettuce
  • 1 (1/2-pound) piece Manchego cheese, rind removed and cheese shaved into thin slices (preferably with a cheese plane)
  • 4 oz chopped walnuts
  • 4 oz wild radish
  • 3 oz brown sugar
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Salt

Instructions:

  1. Wash and dry lettuce and tear into pieces. Arrange lettuce on a large platter.
  2. Sprinkle walnuts and chopped wild radish over lettuce.
  3. Cut the Manchego cheese in slices and place them in a grill – this can be done either using the microwave or a medium-heat oven.
  4. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top of the cheese slices and grill them for 5 to 10 minutes until the cheese is caramelized on top.
  5. Dress salad by drizzling vinegar and olive oil all over.
  6. Enjoy!

WHEN TO EAT CHEESE? IS IT AFTER OR BEFORE?

Manchego Cheese blogThe 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.

QUICK & TASTY #7 – Ox carpaccio & Manchego cheese

Manchego CheeseCarpaccio gathers all I look for in a dish. Simple, healthy and tasty, I never get bored of a good carpaccio.

Today, I’m bringing you the Spanish interpretation of this classic delicacy. And I promise you, this recipe, courtesy of La Aguzadera, one of my favourite restaurants in La Mancha, will surely spoil your culinary taste buds.

What you need:

  • 8 to 10 ounces of ox tenderloin from the tip end of the roast
  • ½ pound of Manchego cheese (shaved)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sherry vinegar from Jerez
  • Salt & Pepper

Instructions:

  1. Wrap the tenderloin in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 2 hours.
  2. After 2 hours, unwrap the tenderloin and thinly slice the ox into approximately 1/8 to 1/4-inch pieces.
  3. Lay out the ox slices in 4 chilled plates.
  4. Dress with the olive oil & Sherry vinegar, the shaved Manchego, salt and pepper to taste.

QUICK & TASTY #1 – Honey-baked figs and granted Manchego

Manchego Cheese and figs www.themanchegocheese.com

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

Instructions:

  1. Using a sharp knife cut a cross into the top of each fig.
  2. Push the figs down on a chopping board to open them slightly.
  3. Place the figs in little squares of foil, big enough to make parcels.
  4. Spoon over the vinegar, honey and thyme, season with salt and pepper.
  5. Fold the foil over to make little parcels and seal the edges.
  6. Place the parcels in the oven at medium heat and cook for 8-10 minutes.
  7. Open the parcels and sprinkle with a generous amount of Manchego.
  8. Serve and enjoy!