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A Spanish-Themed Dinner

November 9, 2011 by Joan Nova in Appetizers, Desserts, Finishing Touches, Fish/Seafood, One dish meal, Party Food, Pasta, Spanish/Tapas | 22 Comments

I seem to be thinking about Spain a lot these days as witnessed by my last few posts. Perhaps I’m channeling my ancestors. Or, perhaps I’m subconsciously psyching myself for another trip to the Motherland. One can hope for the latter. :) Whatever the reason, it makes for good eats! And while I couldn’t set a chair for each of you at the table, I hope you’ll feel like you were there …perhaps even be inspired to create a similarly themed dinner in your home?

As usual, we sort of gather on both sides of the kitchen counter and begin with happy hourbefore moving to the dining table. Everyone stands around with a drink in hand while we have a couple of nibbles and lots of animated gabbing.

Cava (sparkling wine from Spain) is a great aperitif. I served it with pan con tomate layered with vinegary white anchovies. There were also some toasted almonds and Spanish olives to nibble on.

Pan con tomate is very popular in the Catalon region of Spain, most notably Barcelona. I slow-roasted fresh tomatoes with a piece of garlic and a little salt, then strained them. The anchovies were sourced from my local fish counter. After you add your topping (it doesn’t have to be anchovy), drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil.

•    •    •

First Course: With the salad, I geographically went a little off-course. Not particularly Spanish but very interesting.

I wish the photo was more representative and flattering to the ingredients which melded so beautifully.

Ribboned kale, radicchio, fennel and apple topped with a slice of crispy capicola, a round of warm goat cheese, chopped almonds and a vanilla-scented orange vinaigrette. [To make it more Spanish, you could use Jamon Serrano or Iberica -- or any other cured meat. I used what I had.]

Vanilla-Citrus Dressing
1 orange (juice and zest)
1 vanilla bean (flesh extracted)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
splash rice wine vinegar with chili flakes
(finish with a fresh grind of black pepper)

•     •     •

Paella de Mariscos y Fideos (seafood and pasta) was the main course. This dish is a little complicated and time-intensive, but it’s worth the effort especially since the other courses were simplistic. You can see most of the steps I took to prepare the paella in my prior post “Tips for Making a Really Great Paella“. 

The more common paella is rice-based but paella de fideos is routinely found in Southern Spain. It’s said to have Muslim roots.

•     •     •

The sweet gene skipped my family.

We’re not big dessert eaters. I mean, yes, if you put it in front of us and it’s good, we’ll eat it…but we generally don’t crave or plan for dessert.

And so it was with this dinner until, at the last minute, I got the idea to serve Guava y Queso as an after dinner treat.

Guava paste (or canned shells) and queso (white cheese) is a very popular combination in Spain and throughout Latin America. I used an apple corer to make the little cylinders from a block of guava paste and did the same with a soft white cheese. It was the perfect bite!

Hasta luego.

NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!

22 Comments

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  1. Nisrine says:

    This is heaven for a Spanish food lover like myself. Just perfect.

  2. Katie says:

    Every course looks and sounds mouth-watering, Joan! My father-in-law was born in Spain (he came to Argentina at the age of 6) and he enjoys cooking, so he sometimes treats us to dishes from his homeland, like paella. My sister-in-law is currently living in Valencia, and she has told me about fideuà (paella with noodles); however, I’ve never sampled it that way. Maybe I can convince my FIL to make it that way for us next time. ;)
    Katie recently posted..Bathing Regulations — Mar del Plata, Argentina [1888]My Profile

  3. sippitysup says:

    This is as good as eating gets! GREG

  4. Beautiful! And I love guava paste with cheese–my aunt serves it with cream cheese on crackers. I haven’t yet found guava paste here in Seattle, but this makes me feel the need to intensify my search!

  5. Joan, this looks fantastic! I’m in my first trimester of pregnancy and haven’t made much in the kitchen lately. I was really excited because after seeing your paella de mariscos, I actually feel like cooking! Hopefully I can get to it soon!
    diana@spain-in-iowa recently posted..I’m Choosing to Live a Simple LifeMy Profile

  6. bellini says:

    Loving the little bites for the dessert course Joan, although I would have loved to sit down for the entire meal!
    bellini recently posted..Oven Baked Chicken Schnitzel with Sweet Potato Wedges and an Autumn Coleslaw that Steals the ShowMy Profile

  7. Lucky guests in your home Joan. What a great get-together. The idea of sipping, nibbling and gabbing makes for a great party starter. The sweet gene missed me too, although it’s beginning to appear from time to time for a little “taste.”
    Sam
    My Carolina Kitchen recently posted..An Elegant French Green Bean Salad from the Périgueux RegionMy Profile

    • Joan says:

      It’s funny…I, too, notice the craving for that little sweet bite popping up more frequently these days but (so far) a bite is all it takes to satisfy the urge.

  8. I love vanilla in vinaigrettes. Will definitely try your variation, which looks wonderful. I love it with seafood as well…mmm…I see experimentation coming! Nice post. Makes me hungry.
    Victoria Challalncin recently posted..Fun with PotstickersMy Profile

  9. norma says:

    Ole! I tasted your dressing while visiting you and and have used it on some of my salads. Excellent dinner and as usual the pictures are fantastic. The combination of guava and cheese, we call it Romeo y Julieta.
    norma recently posted..Ñoquis Argentine Style + Vegetarian SauceMy Profile

  10. You might search for some Mexican recipes using vanilla with seafood. It’s fairly common here, but hasn’t seemed to have made it to the rest of the world yet!
    Victoria Challalncin recently posted..Fun with PotstickersMy Profile

  11. Nuria says:

    Hola Joan, I agree with you… this is a premonition… I can see in my crystal ball that you’ll be making a trip soon to… Barcelona!!!! My cava bottle is ready for you in the fridge :D
    Nuria recently posted..Stew Lentils with Cod and PotatoesMy Profile

  12. Lori Lynn says:

    Wow Joan – awesome meal. Truly inspired. Each dish sounds great on its own, but all together creates a symphony. Love your dessert too, and the whimsical way you serve it. Brava!
    LL
    P.S. We have similar feeling about dessert.
    Lori Lynn recently posted..All GREEN Grilled Zucchini TacosMy Profile

    • Joan says:

      Thanks…I like the term symphony as it relates to ‘food’. I guess we are maestros in the kitchen and a wooden spoon is our baton.

  13. Peter says:

    Joan, the white anchovies alone have me salivating as we cure fresh anchovies like this too! Those mussels jumped out too!
    Peter recently posted..Mushroom & Wild Rice SoupMy Profile

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