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Add a little Spanish to your pantry

May 21, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
When we think about Latin food, most choose Mexican. But Spanish food, which also has a kick, is much different from our favorite south of the border cuisine.While we might have a love affair with tacos and enchiladas, for a variety of Latin cuisine, there's plenty of room for Spain in our pantry. With a few tips, you can make great Spanish meals using proper Spanish ingredients.

First, check your spice cabinet for these: cumin, paprika, nutmeg and saffron threads. Saffron can be crushed and added to a dish or steeped in a stock prior to adding. Garlic also takes the spotlight, as do onions. Since Spain was once ruled by Romans and Moors, you will find a heavy European influence in their cooking.

Examples are sauces similar to French aioli and ratatouille with eggplant remain popular.

Chiles of all kinds inundate the plate. Some are stuffed, some are torn or chopped into stews and dishes, like the Spanish favorite paella.

Many know Spain for its olives, which offer a wonderful briny tang to dishes. You will also find tomatoes, onions, eggplant, squash, citrus and nuts.

Spanish does not mean relying on meat or fish for flavor. But they do use Spanish olive oil for marinating, sautéing and grilling, along with using sherry vinegar which is considered slightly sweet and nutty yet smooth.

Deep-fried chips and heavy doses of cheese aren't part of the scenario. What you will find is plenty of vegetables, rice, and spices. Spanish cuisine is one of the more healthy cuisines you can try.

 

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