Essential Spanish Ingredients

Bon Appétit


January 1, 2010

Amy Albert

A soulful mix of bright, briny, and smoky, Spanish food is one of the most enduring trends of the year. Down-to-earth yet sophisticated, these flavors are best served simply. Here are six exciting ingredients that will bring the taste of Spain into your cooking.

1. Matiz Organic Piquillo Peppers
Of all the delicious piquillos we tested, these wood-roasted organic peppers were the standouts. With their silky texture and resinous kick, they're ideal as a topper for goat cheese crostini or stuffed with high-quality canned tuna.

2. Ibérico de Bellota Ham
A splurge, but it's prosciutto's rock-star cousin (cured for more than two years; made from free-range pigs that feed on grass and acorns). Buttery, nutty, and hauntingly sweet, a little goes a long way. Perfect with a glass of cava (Spain's famed sparkling wine). $49 for 4 ounces; 800-710-4304;

3. Mild White Anchovy Fillets in Oil and Vinegar
Firm, bright-tasting, yet not salty, white anchovies, or boquerones, are a universe away from the canned variety. Try them draped over romaine lettuce and drizzled with olive oil. $13.50 for 3.17 ounces; 800-710-4304;

4. El Rey de La Vera Smoked Paprika
If there's one spice that shouts "Spain," it's the paprika known as Pimentón de La Vera. Made from oak-fire-dried peppers, it lends smoky sweetness to spice rubs, scrambled eggs, and salmon cakes. There's sweet (dulce) or spicy (picante), which packs heat.

5. Señorío de Vizcántar Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Varieties like Picual, Picudo, and Hojiblanca are what give Spanish olive oil its distinctive flavor. With full-on fruitiness balanced by a peppery bite, this one would be great over soup, salad, or a bowl of white beans. $17.95 for a 17-ounce bottle; 800-710-4304;

6. PataCabra Goat Cheese
You know about the terrific sheep's-milk cheeses from Spain, but have you tried Spanish goat's-milk cheese? PataCabra is semisoft, tangy, and creamy, with complex flavors and subtle earthiness. This would make one deluxe mac and cheese or grilled cheese sandwich.

Photograph by Jamie Chung

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