Summer is nearly over so it’s time to get back into the swing of things for Fall. You can still bring some sunshine into the kitchen with Spanish flavor - we ask Chef Carlos Villanueva for his recipes!
As summer is grinding to a close, you’ll be preparing to get back to the routine. But there’s no reason to go on autopilot in the kitchen - bring some newness and excitement to your cooking repertoire with these recipe ideas from Chef Carlos Villanueva.
With his Hispanic-Cuban background, originating from different parts of Spain on both sides - “Galicia and more towards the North in Asturias”, Carlos has grown up familiar with Spanish products and cuisine. It wasn’t until he studied culinary arts, winning the ICEX scholarship and traveling to Spain, that he learned the regional importance of ingredients and gained a deeper understanding of Spanish cooking. Carlos was stationed in three different restaurants in Spain, including Double Michelin Starred Sergi Arola Gastro in Madrid and Lasarte in the Basque Country. Now acting as corporate executive chef and culinary consultant for Lantmannen Unibake, he gives us some recipes for you to incorporate Spanish flavor into your quick-fix meals or lunchbox.
Do you think the term “simple recipes” means made with fewer ingredients or with less time?
“Simple doesn’t have to be boring. If we’re talking about Spanish products, it’s really all about their quality. There are many ways that you can simplify a recipe but the complexity lies in the quality of the product so there’s not much you have to do to it. For example, a spread that has a few ingredients in it can actually last in your refrigerator for several weeks, so a little bit of upfront work will pay off when it comes to meal prep on other days”.
Why do you think Spanish flavors add the perfect twist?
“When we look at the art of food conserves and preserves, the Spanish are among the best in the world, with anything from cured meats to canned seafood - these things are done in such a way, with such craft and with years of history that the resulting product is of very high quality. They can add a lot to a simple takeaway lunch. Even the vinegars - a three year old sherry vinegar dressing a salad or vegetables - add so much acidity and depth, versus some other vinegars.
Overall, Spanish products have penetrated the market deeper in the last 15 years, getting to the consumer level where you have foodies talking about Spanish olive oils and high quality saffron, or connoisseurship of truffles on a par with that of jamon ibérico. I would almost say it's on trend, with so much room for growth because there are so many amazing products available”.
What are the Spanish essentials in your kitchen?
The first one, and it’s king, is extra virgin olive oil. When I tell people about Spanish olive oil, I try to tell them that there is no category other than extra virgin olive oil. In Spain there’s not much olive blending like in winemaking, so there are a lot of single varietal olive oils. Then, for my next essential, I’d say pimentón - sweet paprika - for example, pimentón de la vera, as it is found in many dishes and can be used to make something super spectacular in very simple ways. Finally, I would mention the vinegars - understanding sherry vinegar and how that works. Again, you don’t need to go to a 30-year-old vinegar to make something really special. If you want to include some luxury products then maybe jamón serrano or tocino, which can really make a meal on their own. Finally, the rice - it is incredibly important and in my house we always had bomba or Valencia rice”.
Finally, what Spanish-infused recipes can you share to include in our repertoires?
These three recipes show how deploying the right ingredients can make for easy snacks and meals that pack a lot of flavor. Try them yourselves and enjoy!