Summer cooking: lighter textures and flavours to help combat the heat


Our nutritional needs change as summer approaches. Stews and casseroles begin to lose their appeal, and we’re drawn towards lighter, fresher dishes. When we’re standing in front of the cooker, different things influence our decisions – higher temperatures and holiday rhythms, to name just two. Let’s take a look at some of the most typical summer dishes from Spain.

In first place comes gazpacho – and it couldn’t be any other way. This is a cold soup made from ripe tomatoes, peppers, bread, and olive oil. Some people reduce the calories a little by leaving out the bread, and others like a touch of garlic. Whatever way you like it, this is a summer essential.

In second place, we have another cold soup that’s very like gazpacho, salmorejo. The main difference here is that it’s creamier and thicker than gazpacho, thanks to the use of a bread called “telera cordobesa” which is harder and more solid than standard bread. The dish is frequently garnished with scraps of serrano ham and chopped hard-boiled egg.

The next candidate is a dish that can actually be found all year round, but it’s got to be on offer at any self-respecting summer beach bar – paella. Mixed, seafood or meat-based, paella is best accompanied by a glass of tinto de verano, a summer speciality made of red wine and lemonade.

Next up on our list is Russian salad. It’s one of those tricky dishes that’s easy to get right, and easy to ruin completely. If you keep closely to the original recipe, it’s hard to go wrong. The most common variety uses a base of cooked potato and hard-boiled egg, adding peas and tuna and combining it all with mayonnaise. As well as respecting the basic ingredients, it’s important to use a light hand with the mayo and maintain some structure to the potato, so it stays in cubes and doesn’t turn to mash.Another summery salad is salpicón de marisco or seafood “salpicon” or salad, a varied combination of seafood. Some of the most common ingredients are prawns, octopus or cuttlefish,         peppers, cucumber, and onion.

Last, but not least, is the famous Spanish potato omelette. You can get this all year round, but in summer it comes into a league of its own, accompanying a refreshing gazpacho, or playing a starring role in one of the best things to eat at the beach no matter where you are – a tortilla sandwich.


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