The next time you meet someone who has lived in or visited Spain, ask them what they enjoyed the most about their Spanish experience. If they are anything like the people I know, food is going to make their top three greatest Spanish hits. Especially around the holidays, Spanish meals are an event. Friends and family make and linger over elaborate spreads with multiple courses.
On the Fourth Day of Imported Christmas, Gordon made some festive tapas favorites so we could get a taste of Spain during the holidays.
I think the hardest part of this our Spanish dinner was deciding which dishes to make. A search for “traditional Spanish Christmas dishes” brings up list after list of seafood appetizers, omelets, chorizo platters, ham croquettes, salads, soups, roast lamb, deviled eggs, a variety of cookies and cakes, and of course, paella.
Because there are only two of us and we both have to work in the morning instead of sleeping off a glorious food coma, we opted for three small dishes. I’m not going to include full recipes here, but a quick Google search brings up plenty of recipe and video options for you to try.
Gambas al Ajillo
Shrimp are regulars at Spanish tables and a staple during the holidays. Gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp) are so simple to make, but pack a lot of flavor. The shrimp are cooked in a sauce of olive oil, garlic, chili flakes and paprika, with some recipes calling for lemon juice and/or fresh herbs to finish. Serving the shrimp with bread will give your guests something to mop up the rest of the delicious oil once their shrimp are gone.
Calamares a la Romana
You can make this fried squid dish as simple or as complicated as you’d like. Because we didn’t have a lot of time for food prep, we opted for a package of pre-breaded calamari that we could bake in the oven while Gordon finished the sauce for the garlic shrimp. You could certainly make these from scratch instead if you have the time or inclination. Either way, they are a delicious crunchy addition to any holiday meal.
If you’re wondering what a potato has to do to be described as “brave,” look no further than this dish. These cubes of potatoes are fried until they are crispy and golden brown, then covered in a spicy paprika sauce. They were a perfect accompaniment to the seafood dishes. Just make extra sauce because if you like things a little spicy, you’re going to want to put it on everything.
Interested in learning about more international Christmas traditions? Follow our 12 Days of Imported Christmas:
Twelve Days of Imported Christmas
- The First Day: Christmas-Stuffed Turkey Piñata and Other Season-Starting Traditions
- The Second Day: Mari Lwyd—Wales’ Rhyming Horse Skull Puppet
- The Third Day: Christingle—England’s Citrus Candlestick
- The Fourth Day: Spanish Christmas Tapas
- The Fifth Day: Jólakötturinn—The Icelandic Christmas Cat
- The Sixth Day: Churchkhela—Georgia’s Christmas Candle Treat
- The Seventh Day: Christkindlmarkt—Germany’s Christmas Markets