Cookbook Review: Spanish Made Simple

Spanish food has never been more popular or more influential, from the city of San Sebastian in northern Spain which counts a massive 16 Michelin stars to the markets of Madrid and ubiquitous tapas bars. It’s also incredibly easy to make at home.

In Spanish Made Simple, Omar Allibhoy, the man behind the Tapas Revolution chain of restaurants in the UK, guides you through the basics of 100 key Spanish dishes. All of the ingredients are available from grocery stores and you don’t need to be an expert cook.

Spanish cooking is characterized by deep flavours, vibrant colours, and minimal ingredients—so you will learn to make a paella that packs a punch, cook up a tapas feast for friends, and even whip up a delectable Spanish dessert in minutes.

Sunny and delicious, informal and everyday, Spanish food is for everyone, from skilled chefs to complete beginners, and Omar shows you how.

Spanish Made Simple, Foolproof Spanish Recipes for Every Day, is available at and

Pan-fried figs, serrano ham, cream cheese and walnuts on toast

Serves 4 as a tapa


100 g (½ cup) cream cheese

50 g (½ cup) walnut halves

4  slices rustic bread, toasted

8 figs

Extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp brown sugar

A splash of sherry vinegar

A pinch of rock or sea salt

8 thin slices serrano ham


Mix the cream cheese with three-quarters of the walnuts, crumbling them between your hands and beating them into the cheese with a fork. Spread generously over the bread.

Open your figs by cutting a cross at the pointed end and opening them out like a flower with your fingers.

Drizzle some olive oil into a pan over a medium heat and add the brown sugar. Add the figs and fry the bases only, without turning them; we only want to cook the bottoms of the figs. Watch that the caramel that forms in the pan doesn’t burn. Add the sherry vinegar and turn off the heat.

Place your hot figs over the toasts and drizzle with the hot vinaigrette from the pan. Top with a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt and the slices of Serrano ham. Sprinkle with the remaining walnuts.

Note: Try this recipe with melon instead of figs – it will be equally great.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Quadrille Publishing.

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