Spanish food does not rely on spices and herbs as much as neighboring cuisines do. Instead, the following pantry items form the backbone of Spanish cooking. They offer subtle flavors but add incredible depth to the recipes here.
1 MANCHEGO CHEESE regularly appears in tapas spreads across Spain. It’s made from sheep’s milk and is aged anywhere from 3 months (called Semi-Curado) to 6 months (Curado) to a year or more (Viejo). Thin slices are often served with membrillo, a jelly-like paste made of quince. The tangy, nutty flavor of Manchego makes it a great choice for cheese platters and in sauces, salads and stuffings. Parmesan cheese is a suitable substitute if you’re using it in a recipe.
2 SERRANO HAM is dried, cured ham made from a special Spanish breed of pork. It’s usually thinly sliced and served alone or with crusty bread as a tapa, but it also adds flavor to stews, paella and pasta. Serrano ham is leaner than its Italian cousin prosciutto, but you can use them interchangeably.
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