Dec 26 2021

Last Minute Recipes for the Holidays with Nico López

Add some Spanish flair to your holiday cooking with these easy last-minute recipe ideas from Nico López, Concept Chef at Mercado Little Spain in New York City.

It’s the nature of the holidays - at some point this festive month, you’re likely to find yourself needing to put together a last minute brunch, snack or dinner with friends and/or family. Instead of reaching for the same old trusted recipes, why not try something new and unexpected, Spanish style? With a few simple ingredients and plenty of Iberian flair,Nico Lopez of Mercado Little Spain (NYC) talks us through three easy recipes - to wow your guests.
Part of José Andrés’s ThinkFoodGroup, Nico López has been working out of Mercado Little Spain since its New York City debut in 2019. A native of Spain, Lopez has been cooking professionally since the age of 16. His Michelin-starred career has taken him from Madrid to London, Bogotá and NYC. Working as a Concept Chef allows him to further innovate with Spanish cuisine. Here he shares some quick concoctions you can make at home in a hurry.
Let’s say you’ve found yourself entertaining one late morning over the holidays and you need to come up with a lazy brunch to please everyone. Nico López reveals how you can make a Spanish omelet with a bag of potato chips (!) : “If you don’t have time to make a tortilla de patatas from scratch take five eggs and beat them, then get a bag of potato chips of good quality and smash them up inside the bag. Add them to a bowl with the eggs. Cook it in a non-stick frying pan with a dash of olive oil from Spain, as if you were making a normal tortilla. Don’t reveal your secret to anyone!” For extra authenticity, add pan con tomate (bread with tomato) and jamón serrano on the side, with a bottle of Cava DO for some festive sparkle at brunch.

Chef Nico Lopez

Now, for a special winter warmer that can be enjoyed at any time or as a side, Lopez walks us through his Fabada Asturiana. This is a Spanish stew that you can prepare in 50 minutes flat: “you can make a stew for a group without spending the whole day in the kitchen and using the best Spanish products.”


  • Chicken stock, such as Caldo de Pollo Aneto
  • Cooked white fabada beans (jar or can)
  • Tomato sauce, such as Salsa de Tomate José Andrés
  • A pinch of saffron
  • Chorizo, such as Palacios
  • Morcilla (black sausage) e.g. Fermín
  • Tocino (pork belly bacon) Ibérico e.g. Fermín


  • Place the beans in a bowl with their liquid
  • Add the stock and mix gently without breaking the beans
  • The stock will blend with the liquid from the beans
  • Strain the liquid from the bowl into a large saucepan and return the beans to their bowl, then start to boil the liquid in the saucepan
  • Add the chopped chorizo, tocino and morcilla
  • Take the morcilla out after 5 minutes, the chorizo after 15 minutes and leave the tocino to simmer for 40 minutes. Add water if you see the liquid evaporating from the pan
  • Cut up the meats into mouth sized pieces and set aside
  • Now the broth will have a powerful flavour, add a little water if it’s too strong and a pinch of saffron per liter of stock
  • In a blender, add the liquid, with the saffron and any slightly broken beans and blend until it is silky smooth
  • Return the liquid to the saucepan, add the beans from the bowl and heat gently. If it is too thick, adjust with salt and water
  • Serve the stew with some pieces of each meat

This Fabada Asturiana is hearty enough to serve as a stand-alone meal but it can also be served as a breakfast of champions with toast and eggs, or as dinner with bread and butter. Hailing from North Western Spain, this dish is best paired with dry cider from the region, or a full-bodied red wine - you choose!

Finally, Nico López suggests some sweet or savory snacks you can put together at a moment’s notice, using Tortas de Aceite from Inés Rosales. These are a large, crunchy, traditional flatbread cracker. Salty or sweet, tortas are made using wheat flour, olive oil - and also aniseed and sugar for the latter. They are so versatile that you can serve them with toppings as an aperitivo, a late night snack or even an impromptu dessert. Modern variations include Seville Orange and Cinnamon, or Sea Salt and Sesame. Lopez guarantees “Tortas Inés Rosales are your best ally! They are delicious with many different flavors and you can put whatever you like on top!”

Tortas Inés Rosales

Lopez’s Torta Topper Tips-

  • Torta Inés Rosales Traditional with tuna belly preserve and piquillo peppers
  • Torta Inés Rosales de Romero with grated Manchego cheese
  • Torta Inés Rosales de Naranja (or Cinnamon) with grated chocolate, salt, and olive oil 

So this holiday season, with just a few base ingredients from your local Spanish deli, you can recreate one - or all - of these creative dishes by Nico López in a flash. The best part is that you’re left with even more time to enjoy eating, drinking and, of course, good company. And don’t forget to mention the Michelin stars behind the cuisine will you.

Fabda asturiana stew