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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Lauren Taylor

Three recipes straight from a Spanish home kitchen

Emma Lee/PA

For me, this is best sandwich in the world, and -top tip – it’s the most incredible hangover food,” says José Pizarro. “People seem surprised to learn that some of the best and freshest seafood in Spain can be found in Madrid.”

The chef worked in Spain’s capital in his early-20s. “I had a brilliant time exploring the night life and partying, and then discovering places to get something to eatafterwards – this was the best way to discover some incredible street food.”

It was the El Mercado de San Miguel where he discovered the best bocadillo de calamares. This recipe is an ode to it.

Deep-fried calamari sandwich

Total time: 25 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients(Serves 2, takes 25 minutes)

For the aioli:

1 free-range egg yolk

1 garlic clove, crushed finely

Grated zest of 1 lemon, plus juice to taste

1 tsp white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar

Pinch of sea salt

150ml olive oil

For the calamari:

1L vegetable oil or light olive oil, for deep-frying

120g plain flour

1 tsp pimentón de la Vera

500g small squid, cleaned, tentacles removed and body sliced into rings

1 crusty baguette, cut into 4 pieces and each one halved

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Begin by making the aioli. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, garlic, lemon zest and vinegar. Season with a good pinch of sea salt. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly, until you have a thick, luscious aioli. Add lemon juice to taste and set aside.

2. To prepare the calamari, pour the oil into a large saucepan (you want it to be half full). Heat to 190°C, or until a cube of bread browns in 20 seconds. While the oil is heating, mix together the flour and pimentón in a large bowl and season with plenty of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the squid and toss until well coated in the seasoned flour.

3. Working in batches, fry the squid for around three minutes or until golden and crunchy, then remove from the oil and set aside to drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt as soon as you remove it from the oil, then continue with the next batch. Lightly toast the baguette slices, then assemble the sandwiches by spreading the aioli over four of the slices, then adding the fried calamari. Top each one with the remaining baguette slices and enjoy.

Cherry gazpacho

Many people are surprised to learn gazpacho can be made with such a variety of things (Emma Lee/PA)

“Many customers and friends are surprised when they learn that gazpacho can be made with such a variety of things,” says Pizarro – meaning it’s not just about classic tomato.

Gazpacho is essentially a cold soup that can be smooth or textured, thin or thick. “Here, I’m making it with cherries because I grew up with some of the best cherries in the world. They are a remarkably high-quality product of Jerte, just north of my home village in Spain.”

Total time: 20 minutes plus 2 hours marinating


For the gazpacho:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 slice of stale white sourdough

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped

500g ripe red cherries, stoned

½ cucumber, peeled and diced

300ml tomato juice

2 tbsp sherry vinegar

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 tbsp to emulsify

For the toppings:

2 tbsp olive oil,

1 thick slice of stale white sourdough, cut into small cubes

1 thyme sprig, leaves picked

½ small red onion, very finely chopped

50g goat’s cheese, crumbled

¼ cucumber, peeled and finely diced

A handful of fresh basil leaves

Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. For the soup, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat and fry the bread on both sides until golden.

2. Put the fried bread into a bowl with the rest of the gazpacho ingredients (except for the two tablespoons of oil) and allow to sit for a couple of hours.

3. For the topping, heat a little of the oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the cubes of bread and the thyme and fry until you have golden croutons. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels and season.

4. Blitz the soup really well with a hand-held blender, then push it through a coarse sieve into a jug. Whisk in the two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Pour into four bowls and top with all the toppings, along with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Tip: You can can roast the peppers if you’d like the soup to have a softer flavour.

Moorish meatballs with with spinach, pine nuts and spiced saffron yoghurt

Meatballs are Pizarro’s favourite thing to cook (Emma Lee/PA)

“Meatballs are one of my favourite things to cook. They’re a great way to play around with different flavours,” says Pizarro.

“This recipe is very quick, and really different to any meatball dishes I’ve made before. It’s perfect for a midweek supper or tapas evening.”

Total time: 45 minutes

Serves: 4


2 tbsp olive oil

1 banana shallot, finely chopped

300g beef mince

300g pork mince

2 fat garlic cloves, grated

1 tsp hot smoked pimentón de la Vera

1 tsp sweet smoked pimentón de la Vera

1 tsp ground cumin handful of chopped coriander, plus extra to garnish

30g pine nuts, toasted

250g baby spinach

30g sultanas

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Crusty bread, to serve

For the yoghurt:

300 g Greek yoghurt

1 garlic clove, grated

1 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves

A pinch of saffron threads, soaked in 1 tsp boiling water

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/350F/gas 4. Heat 1one tablespoon of the oil in a small frying pan (skillet) over a low heat and gently fry the shallot for 10 minutes until soft. Set aside and allow to cool.

2. In a large bowl, mix together both types of mince, along with the garlic, cooled shallot, spices and chopped coriander. Season well and shape into 16 walnut-sized balls.

3. Heat the remaining oil in a large ovenproof frying pan over a medium–high heat. Add the meatballs and fry until they are golden, then transfer to the oven for five minutes to finish cooking. Remove to a warm plate and cover loosely with kitchen foil.

4. Meanwhile, make the spiced saffron yoghurt. In a bowl, mix together the yoghurt, garlic and mint and season well, then stir in the saffron and its soaking water.

5. Place the frying pan you used for the meatballs over a high heat and add the spinach and sultanas, along with a small splash of water. Mix together and allow the spinach to wilt and mingle with the cooking juices from the meatballs. Add the pine nuts, then return the meatballs and any resting juices back into the pan and toss everything together.

6. Divide the yoghurt between four plates and top with the meatballs and spinach. Serve with crusty bread.

‘The Spanish Home Kitchen: Simple, Seasonal Recipes And Memories From My Home’ by José Pizarro (published by Hardie Grant, £27; photography by Emma Lee), available now.

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