Category Archives: Tapa recipe

Tapa of the Week #16 – Cogollos al ajillo

Lettuce hearts with garlic


A wonderfully simple tapa, Cogollos al Ajillo, or “garlicky lettuce hearts”, were something I discovered in Cordoba at a neighborhood restaurant outside the historic center which served fantastic pincho morunos for 60 cents each. We were also served cogollos al ajillo and I made a mental note to make them myself when I got back home in Madrid.  These lettuce hearts are so fast, easy, and delicious, I don’t know why I had not discovered them before! This dish makes a great side, tapas party anyone?, and its a big hit with garlic lovers.

Preparation for 3 to 4 people:

3 lettuce hearts

White wine vinegar

4 to 5 cloves garlic

olive oil


First carefully cut off a thin slice of the sometimes discolored stem, making sure to keep the stem intact so the lettuce layers do not seperate. Next cut the lettuce hearts into quarters or thirds, wash and pat dry. Arrange the pieces on a plate as above. Mince the garlic and heat several tablespoons of olive oil in a fryng pan and when hot add 4 or 5 cloves of minced garlic. Meanwhile, while watching the garlic so it does not burn, drizzle at least a tablespoon of white wine vineger over the lettuce hearts and then sprinkle on a pinch of salt. When the garlic is a golden toasted color, remove from heat and immediately pour over the lettuce hearts, with some of the olive oil that now has a wonderful garlic flavor infused in it. Drizzle on more extra virgin olive oil if needed and it’s ready to serve. I always make this dish last and serve immediately so the lettuce stays crisp. The lettuce can then be picked up by the stem, no utensils necessary. Enjoy!



Filed under Food, Spain, Tapa recipe, Tapas, Uncategorized

Tapa of the Week #11 – Pimientos de Padron

Fresh Pimientos de Padron

One of my favorite tapas is the flavorful and simple peppers found at many bars throughout Spain. They originate in Padron, a small town in Galicia and are extremely popular here in Madrid as well, especially since there are alot of Galician bars and restaurants here. The fun thing about them is that some are hot and some are not. In the language of Galicia (Gallego) this would be: “Os pimientos de padrón uns pican e outros non” A lot of people say every 5th one is spicy which sometimes is about right. They are a bit more expensive than a regular pepper as they must be picked at an early stage to avoid getting too hot. Once they are on your plate its a gamble as to which will be spicy. Its like they try to catch you off guard, you timidly try one, its not spicy so you eat the whole thing, its great! So you take another, and another, you begin talking to your friends and without thinking you eat another pepper and ZING! It got you!

They are easy to make at home if you can get them. Fortunately for those of you not in Spain there are some farmers in the US and UK who grow them and they can be bought online.

To prepare, just wash them, pat dry and fry them in a metal frying pan in a bit of olive oil (a few tablespoons). You need to fry them for a few minutes until they start getting soft. When they are done, transfer to a plate, sprinkle with some fine rock salt and enjoy!!

Pimientos de Padron

There are many bars and restaurants in Madrid where you can find Pimientos de Padron. If its from Galicia for sure they will have them. Also many places in and around Plaza Mayor, and near Plaza Santa ana. Some examples are Maceiras restaurant on Huertas. El Rey del Pimiento and El Madroño next to it. Both are in the Plaza Puerta Cerrada just down Calle Cuchilleros from the Plaza Mayor.

El Rey del Pimiento

El Madroño

Although you dont have to go to only these places, I would say its as easy to a place that serves Pimientos de Padron as it is to find the spicy peppers. Every 5th bar or so will have them. 🙂 Enjoy!

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Tapa of the Week #1 – Tortilla Española


Tortilla Española

Tortilla Española, also called the “Tortilla de Patata” is one of the staples of the Spanish diet. Its a potato omelette which is about 1.5 inches thick and round, in the shape of the pan in which it is made. Its one of the most common tapas found throughout Spain which is why I wanted to highlight it as the first Tapa of the Week! The tortilla is relatively easy to make and the ingredients are usually in your fridge or cupboard. Its rarely eaten for breakfast in Spain except by some tourists who confound the Spaniards by needing eggs right away in the morning. Its also enjoyed at the more informal and smaller evening meal and commonly finds its way into “bocadillos” or sandwiches for a picnic lunch. You can find the tortilla in homes, bars and restaurants all around Spain. And now you can make it yourself! The recipe is quite basic, its the technique and flipping that may take a bit of practice.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes (maybe more the first time)


Amounts may depend on your skillet. This is for a medium sized 10 inch frying pan. Non-stick works the best.

about 400ml or 2 cups of olive oil
4-5 medium to large potatoes

1 onion (optional)

4 eggs

1.5 teaspoon salt (or to desired taste)


1. Wash the potatoes, peel and slice them as for scalloped potatoes. (Optional: I like to cut them into 1 cm cubes because that is how I was taught by cook from Bilbao, Spain) Also finely dice the onion.

2. Pour the oil into a medium-sized skillet. Heat oil to medium-high. When the oil is hot, add the potatoes. Onions can be added now or when potatoes are half cooked depending on your preference. The oil should almost cover the potatoes and they should be lightly boiling in the oil, do not allow them to brown. Cooking time for the potatoes is about 15 minutes. Stir frequently.

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs.

4. When the onion is tender, and the potatoes can be broken apart with a fork, scoop the potatoes and onions out of the oil with a slotted spoon or strainer and add the drained potatoes to the beaten eggs. Reserve the oil, it can be used in other dishes or for your next tortilla.

5. Add salt generously and mix. Drain most of the oil from the skillet into a bowl (to use again next time!), leaving enough oil to coat the skillet. (about 2-3 tablespoons)

6. Now have a plate ready that is the size of your skillet or a little bigger and not too heavy. You will use it to flip the tortilla later. Reheat the skillet to a medium to high heat, when it is hot, pour the egg, potato and onion mixture back into the skillet. With a spoon or spatula, smooth over the mixture in the skillet. Continue reading


Filed under Food, Spain, Tapa recipe, Tapas