Extravagant Side Dishes: Spanish "Antipasto"

I love when other people cook for me almost as much as I love hosting dinners. If someone else is cooking, that means I get to make a ridiculous side dish that I typically wouldn't have the time to put together. In this instance, my friend was making 3 large pans of paella (yurme!) and requested a veggie dish. I spent an afternoon searching for a fun Spanish vegetable recipe. Finding none that were over-the-top enough for my taste, I came up with my own.

This is the Spanish version of the Italian antipasto dish. You could also simply refer to it as a Spanish Vegetable Tapas. I wanted crisp veggies with concentrated flavor, so I stir-fried the peppers, and just cooked the asparagus. Oh, and I threw in a little spicy paprika-garlic-flavored sausage grease, just for fun.

Spanish Antipasto:

2 Spanish Cheeses (Manchego, Montsec--goat's milk, La Mancha--sheep's milk, Idiazabal, ect.)
4 heads Garlic
2 medium lemons (grate the 2 tsp. of the zest before juicing)
2 tsp. lemon zest
Olive Oil
1 jar Manzanilla olives
2 yellow bell peppers
2 orange bell peppers
2 bunches asparagus
1 small package of loose Chorizo Sausage
Kosher salt
2 loaves crusty white bread

Prepare the Roasted Garlic

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Peel the papery covering off the garlic, leaving the skins on the individual bulbs. Cut 1/4 inch off the top of the garlic cloves, exposing the bulbs. Place each head of garlic on two layers of aluminum foil. Pour 1 Tbs. olive oil over each head, massage the oil over the garlic head, and cover tightly in foil. Bake for 35 minutes.

Remove the garlic from the foil, and let it cool. Using a butter knife, pop each bulb out of its skin and into mixing bowl. Add 1 tsp. olive oil, and mash the roasted garlic into a paste.

Stir Fry the Vegetables

Cut the bottom 1 inch off of the aspragus. Steam the asparagus over 1 1/2 cup water mixed with the juice of two medium sized lemons until al dente (8-10 minutes). Remove from heat and drop in an ice water bath to stop cooking. Drain and arrange on a platter.

Cook 3/4 cup of chorizo sausage, and reserve the sausage for a later use. Reserve 1/2 of the grease. Heat the chorizo grease just until smoking and add 1/2 of the peppers, stir frying them until crisp but sweet. Remove the peppers, and repeat with the remaining chorizo grease and peppers.

Finishing the Dish

Arrange vegetables, cheeses, olives, and roasted garlic on platters. (Ok, I cheated and used Cambozola, but we have a 5 lb (!!) wheel in our fridge, and I want to win the cholesterol contest at my work for the second year running, so I have to get rid of it.)

Sprinkle lemon zest, olive oil, and kosher salt over the asparagus. Garnish with paprika, and serve your antipasto with crusty bread.



  1. I can vouch that this was *delicious* and beautiful and much better than my paella!