When the months are cold, many of us enjoy rich, hearty, stick-to-your-bones comfort dishes. But lighter, veggie-based dishes are also a great way to enjoy flavor and nutrition without overindulging in unnecessary calories. While this traditional Spanish menu is perfect at any time of year, it's especially good after the holidays once the heavy meals and dinner parties are gone and you're looking to get back on track with a more steady and healthy diet.
Our suggested menu includes a common Spanish appetizer, red peppers stuffed with tuna, a simple tapa. Grilled eggplant in a tomato vinaigrette can be served as a first course or side dish to the traditional Spanish Rioja-style chicken, cooked with garlic and peppers. Spicy patatas bravas and salad are included in the recipes – you might choose one or both. Equally optional (but totally recommended) is the rich tarta de Santiago with fruit for dessert.
The entire menu can be made ahead of time except for the fried potatoes, which are best served immediately after making. Buen provecho!
01 of 06
There's no cooking required to get this tapa ready in just 12 minutes. You just need to open a can of whole roasted peppers, make a stuffing with canned tuna, green onions, olives and seasoning, and stuff the peppers.
Regardless of your cooking expertise, this dish is a breeze to make and a sure delight for your guests. Fresh, vibrant, and packed with vitamins and protein, it's one of those classic Spanish tapas that's perfect any time of year.
02 of 06
Although this dish is often served as a tapa, it can also replace a standard green salad or vegetable course. As eggplants have a meaty quality to them, this dish is also a wonderful option to offer to your vegan and vegetarian friends. You might choose to grill tofu or tempeh to accompany the eggplants and create a quick and nutritious option for those who choose not to eat meats.
Simply season and grill slices of eggplant under the broiler. Chop ripe tomatoes, green onions, and garlic, and mix with olive oil and sherry vinegar to make the vinaigrette. Allow the mixture of eggplants and vinaigrette to marinate before serving. Ready in 40 minutes.
03 of 06
The northern region of Spain called La Rioja is best known for its high-quality wine production and also for delicious cuisine. Winters in La Rioja are cold, and the traditional dishes of the area are known to warm you up.
04 of 06
Homemade fries are a popular side dish in every region of Spain. Served with just about every main course, these potatoes are especially tasty because they're fried in flavorful olive oil.
Cube and season the potatoes and carefully fry them for 10 minutes until golden brown. Make a tomatoey sauce spiced with tabasco, mustard, paprika, and red wine vinegar. No special fryer is required and you can have this side dish (or any-occasion tapa) ready in 30 minutes.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06
Our simple green salad is ready in just 10 minutes and can be made in advance to keep in the fridge until dinner time. The colder the better.
Use fresh lettuce, ripe tomatoes, and red onions. A basic dressing of olive oil, vinegar, and salt is all you need to dress a beautiful salad. Spray cold water right before serving to firm up the lettuce. For an extra touch, add ribbons of Parmesan or Pecorino cheese.
06 of 06
This delicious almond cake is named in honor of Santiago (St. James), the patron saint of Spain. Although the origin of the tart is unclear, it is said that people who completed their pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, where the saint's remains rest, enjoyed a slice of the tart upon their arrival to the city.
Made with ground almonds, eggs, sugar, and flour, it's clearly not low in calories, but worth every bite. Prep and serve in 1 hour and 5 minutes.
If some of your guests decline to enjoy, offer a simpler sweet in the form of café con miel (coffee with honey).