World Tapas Day with Wine from Rioja

I spent a large part of my life living in Spain and one of the things I loved most was the incredible food and wine. Fat, juicy tomatoes eaten like apples. Freshly caught fish barbecued on the beach. Long summers and picnics in the mountains. Rambling through village markets hunting for the spiciest chorizo. My mother’s tortillas eaten in the shade of bougainvillea. Lazy ‘sobremesa’ sipping on Rioja. These are some of my happiest food memories and have led to a life-long love of Spanish food, and of course Spanish wine. Spain has over 2.9 million acres of wine producing land, and Rioja in northern Spain is the most famous. Wine was first made here by monks over a thousand years ago. The area lies south of the Cantabrian mountain range, which protects vineyards from the fierce winds synonymous with northern Spain. This, along with the Mediterranean climate, provides the perfect conditions for growing vines. In 1991, the prestigious "Calificada" nomination was awarded to Rioja, making it Spain's first Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOCa). (https://uk.riojawine.com/en/)

The wine is defined by the care and aptitude taken in the aging process. Rioja Wine is aged in oak casks, encouraging rich aromas and flavours released by the tannins in the wood, yielding some of the best red, white and rosé wine in the world.

Tomorrow happens to be World Tapas Day, offering the perfect excuse, if one was needed, to revisit some of my favourite Spanish inspired recipes and indulge in a few glasses of Rioja. I’ve included some ideas for wine pairings below, but if you want more information about what Rioja has to offer, head over to the Official Rioja Wine UK website (https://uk.riojawine.com/en/home.html) for some very helpful tips.

Manchego Tortilla

The Spanish, quite rightly, tend to be protective of traditional Tortilla. The original recipe calls only for potatoes, onions and eggs. I realise that adding cheese is perhaps a little taboo, and this recipe should really be called a cheese and potato omelette; but in our house we always call it Tortilla, so purists look away now. It’s delicious when paired with a fresh and citrussy Tempranillo Blanco in its second or third year.

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Ingredients

350g waxy potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
6 eggs
150g Manchego (or another hard, mature cheese), grated

pinch of paprika Salt and Pepper
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Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the chopped potatoes and onions. Cover the pan and cook over a moderate heat until the potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally and taking care not to let them brown.

Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk

When the potatoes and onions are cooked, remove them from the pan using a slotted spoon. Let as much oil drain back into the pan as possible. Stir the potatoes, onions and grated Manchego into the eggs. Add a pinch of Paprika and season with salt and pepper.

Pour off excess oil from the pan and increase the heat. When the oil begins to smoke, pour in the egg, potato and cheese mixture. Stir ocassionally with a fork while it cooks to make sure it sets evenly.

When the bottom begins to brown, invert the omelette onto a plate, slide back into the pan and cook the other side. Once it’s nicely browned slide onto a plate and serve immediately.

 

Broccoli and Chorizo Flatbreads

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These flatbreads are a real favourite. Not only are they addictive, but they’re simple to make and can be adapted to whatever ingredients you have on hand. I sometimes use serrano ham, olives, fresh tomatoes and shavings of aged Iberico cheese. When it comes to Chorizo, the spicier the better in my opinion. it perfectly complements the deep red, black fruit and oaky flavours of Tempranillo or Granacha.

Ingredients (Enough for two large flatbreads)

For the flatbread: 350g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting 1 tsp baking powder 350g Greek yoghurt pinch of salt

For the topping: 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for serving 2 tbsp ricotta 2 tsp lemon zest 2 tsp chilli flakes 2 cloves of garlic, crushed 200g cooking chorizo, sliced or cubed 10 tenderstem broccoli spears, steamed (but still a little crunchy) 1 large buffalo mozzarella 50g sliced sundried tomatoes leafy greens such as rocket to serve.

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Preheat the oven to 200C.

To make the flatbreads, combine the flour, baking powder, yoghurt and salt in a large bowl. Mix with a knife, then gradually bring it together with your hands forming a ball. Knead briefly, then divide the dough in two.

Mix the ricotta, lemon zest, chilli flakes and garlic together in a small bowl.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the flatbreads and place them on a non-stick baking sheet. Bake for about 3 minutes until bubbles start forming, remove from the oven and carefully flip them over. Spread the ricotta mixture over the flatbreads and tumble over the broccoli, chorizo and sundried tomatoes. Tear up the mozzarella and scatter over the top. Return to the oven, and bake for a further 3 minutes, until its golden and the mozzarella has melted. Scatter some leafy greens over the top and serve immediately.

This blog post was created in collaboration with Rioja Wine UK. You can find them at the following: https://uk.riojawine.com/en/ Instagram @riojawineuk Twitter @riojawineuk https://www.facebook.com/RiojaWineUK/