Cold Tapas to Beat the Spanish Heat

Summer temperatures can be quite high in Spain, and while some sizzling patatas bravas or croquetas might be tempting, there is an array of cold tapas that are refreshing and equally delightful. Here are some of the most common dishes served cold that will allow to you to appreciate all the facets of Spain’s rich gastronomy.

Salpicón de marisco is a refreshing salad made with cooked seafood and finely chopped vegetables. The typical salpicón includes a white fish plus a shellfish, like monkfish and crab or shrimp. However, it’s normal to find other variations of the recipe with mussels or octopus instead. Mixed with red and green pepper, onions, and finished with a simple vinaigrette, this tender but crunchy salad is perfect for summer and a national favorite.

Salmorejo is a creamy cold tomato soup that originated in the city of Córdoba, in Andalucía. This simple dish has only 4 main ingredients: tomatoes, bread, olive oil and garlic. The use of day-old bread gives the salmorejo its signature thickness. It’s most commonly served with some cured ham (jamón) and bits of boiled egg on top. This chilled Andalusian delicacy is the richer popular counterpart to the classic gazpacho.

Ensaladilla Rusa – this tapa reigns supreme and is a staple in all bars throughout Spain due to its immense popularity. It is the Spanish version of a potato salad, but with the addition of tuna for extra flavor. It starts with a base of boiled potatoes, mixed with cooked vegetables like carrots and peas, tuna, boiled egg, and all covered in creamy mayonnaise.

In the Basque country, you will always find a plate of ‘gildas’ on the bar counters. These small bites of pickled foods are served on a toothpick and normally include green olives without pits, anchovies, and thin green peppers called ‘piparras’. This slightly spicy, salty snack can be accompanied by wine or vermouth. Many other pintxos (Basque tapas) are also served cold on top of a slice of bread. For example, you may find ones with seafood salad or slices of local meats and cheeses.

An essential component of any tapas experience, olives are usually given to accompany a glass of wine or beer. The olives can be served with the pit, filled with anchovy, or marinated. These ‘aceitunas aliñadas’ are bursting with flavor and marinated in a blend of herbs, garlic, and citrus zest. You may also find ones marinated ‘de la abuela’ style with garlic and red pepper. The locals all have their personal favorites among the 200+ varieties of Spanish olives.

Whatever your preference, Valesa’s team is here to guide you in choosing the best tapas bars throughout Spain.