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Classic Spanish Recipes

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In this Lesson you will Learn

  1. What is sofrito?
  2. What are typical ingredients in Spanish cuisine?
  3. What are classic Spanish dishes?


Spanish cuisine today reflects both the country's traditional regional cuisines and the efforts of its most experimental and cutting edge "nouvelle cuisine" chefs. Seafood-rich diets are prevalent on the coasts. As you head inland, you will discover roasted meats, Spanish ham and other cured meats, olives, legumes, and Spanish cheeses.

In Spain, the biggest meal of the day is lunch; the beloved small plates known as "tapas" are served before a late, lighter dinner.


The ingredients used in traditional Spanish cuisine are a mixture of indigenous ingredients and ingredients introduced by other cultures. The Romans brought olive trees, the Moors brought almonds, citrus fruits, saffron and other spices, and of course, Spanish explorers returned from the Americas with tomatoes, peppers, beans, potatoes, chocolate, and vanilla. 1

Sofrito is a sauce that forms the basis of many Spanish dishes. It is composed of fried onion, tomato, garlic, and bell pepper (though other ingredients may be added).

In addition to onions, tomatoes, garlic, and bell peppers, olives (and olive oil) as well as hot chili peppers are vital to Spanish cuisine. Parsley, oregano, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, mint, paprika and saffron are common herbs and spices. 2

Cured ham (especially jamon serrano) and chorizo are often served as a tapas or may be used as part of a main course. Chicken, pork, beef, lamb, fish (especially tuna, sardines, anchovies, and dried salted cod), seafood, and Spanish rice are all possible components of a main course. Inland, hearty dishes with chickpeas, beans, and lentils are also popular.3

Manchego is the most famous Spanish cheese, though Spain produces around 200 types of cheese. Spanish wine and sherry may also be used in cooking.

Classic Spanish Recipes

Appetizer: Tapas
Soup: Gazpacho
Main Dish: Escabeche
Main Dish: Paella
Main Dish: Spinach and Chickpea Stew
Sauce: Romesco
Dessert: Churros
Dessert: Flan or Crème Caramel

Recommended Read


This cookbook contains classic recipes from Spain's diverse countryside. Gazpacho, paella, flan, and sangria - it's all here.

check it out »


  1. The Book of Spanish Cooking
  2. The Food of Spain
  3. Spain


  1. Sofrito is fried onion, tomatoes, garlic, and bell pepper. It is the foundation of many Spanish dishes.
  2. Typical Spanish ingredients: olives, almonds, citrus fruit, saffron, tomatoes, beans, onion, garlic, peppers, cured ham, chorizo, fish/seafood, and rice.
  3. Classic Spanish dishes: tapas, gazpacho, escabeche, paella, churros, and flan.
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