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Easy European Dishes to Cook at Home While We Can't Travel

Use these recipes to cook up authentic European dishes from your own kitchen

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  • 31 March 2020
  • • 14 min read

One of the very best things about travelling is experiencing a country’s culture through our taste buds. Unfortunately, we can’t visit these new places in person right now, but that doesn’t stop us turning the heat up and sampling new European cuisines from the comfort of our own home. We’ve put together some great recipes that’ll satisfy your stomach while keeping your wanderlust whirring. Expect hearty, rich Swedish meatballs, traditional Italian pasta sauce, simple Greek gyros, the perfect Polish pierogi and more. Get a taste of Europe from your own kitchen and cook up these easy and authentic dishes that will transport you across the continent with every bite…  


Bruschetta 

Eaten as a snack, appetizer or antipasti in Italian cuisine, bruschetta is deliciously simple, fresh and so easy to make. All you need is some good quality bread, fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil, a couple of other store cupboard staples and you’re good to go. Here’s how to make the perfect traditional Italian bruschetta.

Ingredients:

  • 4 ripe tomatoes, chopped small

  • 4 slices of fresh, rustic bread

  • 1 garlic clove

  • 4 tbsp olive oil

  • Fresh basil leaves

  • Coarse salt

How to make bruschetta:

  1. Toss your chopped tomatoes with the olive oil and set aside to marinate. 

  2. Lightly toast your sliced bread (either on the grill or in a toaster) and rub with the peeled garlic clove. 

  3. Plate up your garlicky toast, top with the tomatoes and a sprinkle over a pinch of salt and the fresh chopped basil. 


Paella

What’s served as a showstopper for tourists is, to Spanish locals, just an old family favourite. Cooked up on a weekly basis in homes across the country, paella is a traditional Spanish meal that brings people together, making it the perfect stuck-at-home dish if you’re self isolating with family or friends. You don’t need to have a paella pan for this, a large frying pan will do fine. If you can’t get hold of some of the ingredients, feel free to leave it out or swap for something else. Or if you don’t like seafood then you can try this recipe with chicken and chorizo instead.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 squid tube, cut into squares

  • 10-12 large prawns (raw)

  • 6-8 fresh mussels

  • 1 cup short grain rice

  • ½ cup of tomato puree

  • ½ tsp smoked paprika

  • 2½  cups fish stock (chicken/vegetable stock would also do)

  • 1 sachet of Spanish saffron (you can buy this online)

  • Fresh parsley

  • Lemon cut into wedges

How to make seafood paella:

  1. Put 5 tbsp olive oil in your pan on a medium-high heat. Add the cut up squid with a pinch of salt, cook for 2 minutes and remove from heat to a separate bowl.

  2. Cook the onion, garlic and red bell pepper for roughly 5 minutes. Then add tomato puree, smoked paprika and salt & pepper and carry on cooking for 3 minutes.

  3. Put the squid back into the pan with the stock and sachet of saffron. 

  4. Bring to the boil, add your rice and leave it alone once you’ve evenly distributed it around the pan. Cook for 5 minutes and do not stir it!

  5. Add your prawns and mussels and cook for 5 minutes more and then lower the heat. You can give the pan a shake every now and then but still do not stir it. 

  6. Wait until there is only a little stock left (about 10 minutes) and increase the heat for 1 minute more to give the ‘burnt’ rice bottom that traditional paella must have. 

  7. Let it rest, garnish with lemon and parsley and serve.


Croque Monsieur

Croque Monsieur is a French classic and one of the easiest recipes on this list! Served up in cafes and restaurants as a quick and tasty lunchtime snack, it’s simply a toasted sandwich filled with cheese and ham. Here’s how you can make one at home… 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 slices of bread (any you like or have)

  • 2 slices of ham

  • A good handful of Gruyere cheese 

  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard

  • Butter

How to make a simple Croque Monsieur:

  1. Preheat your grill.

  2. Butter one side of each slice of bread and spread mustard on each of the other sides. 

  3. On top of one of the mustard-covered sides, add the ham and half the cheese, then cover with the other slice of bread. 

  4. Place under the grill for 5 minutes, then remove it, flip it over and top with the rest of your cheese. Carry on grilling (around 5 minutes) until it’s golden, crispy and heavenly enough to eat! 


Coq au vin

This comforting chicken casserole is a French staple cooked in many regions throughout France. Coq au vin is packed with flavour yet pretty simple to make yourself at home. When you’re in need of some comfort food in quarantine, use our coq au vin recipe below for your cosy Sunday night treat…

Ingredients: 

  • 30g butter

  • 12 shallots

  • 250g chestnut mushrooms

  • 5 chicken legs

  • 2 garlic cloves (crushed)

  • 3 rashers of streaky bacon (chopped)

  • 600ml red wine

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • Carrots

  • 1 and half chicken stock cubes

  • Chopped parsley

  • 2 rosemary sprigs 

  • 2 tsps tomato puree

  • 3 thyme sprigs

  • 30g flour

  • Salt and pepper to taste

How to make a one pot coq au vin:

  1. Add the oil and butter to a large saucepan and heat it up. Once hot, throw in the chopped bacon rashers and fry until crispy. Then remove bacon and put aside to drain.

  2. Add peeled shallots and mushrooms to the pan until browned, then set aside with the bacon

  3. Add the chicken and chopped carrots to pan and cook for 12 minutes until browned

  4. Lift the contents out of the pan with a slotted spoon and leave to drain on paper towels

  5. Add the flour to the pan and cook for 5 minutes, stirring throughout. Reduce the wine in a separate pan, then add the reduced wine, tomato puree and chicken stock to form a casserole base

  6. Return the chicken, bacon, mushrooms and shallots back to the mixture. Add the garlic.

  7. Add thyme and rosemary springs and season with salt and pepper

  8. Boil it all out for 10-15 minutes with lid on

  9. Then, cook in a preheated oven at 180°C/gas mark 4 for 45 minutes 

  10. Once tender and ready to serve, garnish with chopped parsley


Pierogi

Pierogi is Poland’s answer to European dumplings. The small, savoury bites are a traditional Polish dish filled with soft cheese and potato, and they’re easy to make totally from scratch. Plus these can easily be frozen and defrosted for another meal later on. Give this authentic pierogi recipe a try and you’ll see just how simple it is…

Ingredients (makes about 30 pierogi):

  • 2 cups all purpose flour

  • 1 large egg (room temperature)

  • 1 cup lukewarm water

  • 5 russet potatoes

  • 1 onion

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • 1 cup grated Cheddar or ricotta 

  • Salt & pepper

How to make Pierogi:

  1. Peel and boil the potatoes until you can easily put a knife through them. Meanwhile, finely chop and sauté the onion.

  2. Once the potatoes are cooked, mash in a bowl with a fork. Add the sautéed onion, grated cheese, garlic powder and season well with salt and pepper. Set mixture to the side.

  3. In a separate bowl, add flour, egg, a teaspoon of salt and the lukewarm water. Combine with your hands and add a little more flour if the mixture feels too sticky.

  4. Let the dough rest (covered with a tea towel) for 30 minutes. 

  5. Divide the dough into balls that are roughly the size of a tablespoon and roll them out thinly onto a floured surface, one by one. Cover them with a damp tea towel to stop them drying out as you fill them up.

  6. Place a tablespoon of filling into each circle of dough, fold over and crimp the edges shut so your dumpling is in the shape of a moon. Keep them covered to prevent them drying out.

  7. Bring a pot of salted water to a simmer and cook your pierogi in small batches until they float (2-3 minutes). 

  8. Drain and serve with hot melted butter.


Pintxos

Pintxos are quick and easy-to-make canapes that derive from northern Spain’s Basque region. Delicious mouthfuls of flavour, pintxos can involve all sorts of different toppings so you can make them with whatever you have in your fridge, within reason. They are perfect accompaniment to a Spanish white wine such as Albarino, so throw your own pintxos party at home and get creative with Spain’s core staple ingredients. We’ve created a pintxos recipe for you to follow using pork belly or chorizo sausage. Feel free to adjust if you don’t have all of the ingredients. Cured meats always work well on pintxos if you don’t have pork or chorizo to hand…

Ingredients:

  • 1 Crusty baguette

  • Pork belly (can be swapped for chorizo sausage)

  • Padron peppers

  • Manchego cheese

  • Olive oil

  • Lemon zest

  • Salt 

  • Paprika

  • Garlic oil / garlic paste

  • Toothpicks to hold your pintxos together

  • Parsley

How to make pork belly (or chorizo) pintxos:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

  2. Cut your crusty baguette into bite-sized slices and place them onto a baking tray. 

  3. Drizzle the baguette slices with olive oil and toast them into the oven for 5-6 minutes until slightly golden

  4. Slice the pork belly into bite-sized strips (a similar width to the baguette slices). 

  5. Chop the padron peppers in half and remove seeds where possible

  6. Put pork slices into a bowl and rub in the paprika, garlic paste, salt, pepper and lemon zest. You want the pork to be covered nice and evenly. If you’re using chorizo, you won’t need salt, garlic paste or paprika as it’s already flavoursome enough on its own.

  7. Heat olive oil into a pan and sear the pork belly and padron peppers over medium heat until the pork is just golden brown on both sides. Turn over to ensure both sides of the pork and peppers are seared. If you’re using pre-cooked chorizo, only cook for a few minutes. The peppers should now be wilted and brown.

  8. Slice your manchego into thin squares or rectangles

  9.  To assemble the pintxos, first add the manchego to each baked baguette slice. Then add the tender pork and top with padron peppers. Add lemon and sea salt to taste.

  10. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and your pintxos is ready to eat!


Swedish meatballs

Traditionally served with boiled or mashed potatoes and a rich, creamy sauce, this dish is the perfect at-home comfort food. There’s a reason that in Sweden this meal is served at every opportunity, as it’s just so delicious! The classic recipe usually uses a mixture of pork and beef minced meat, but if you can only get hold of one or the other then that’s totally fine in this case. 

Ingredients:

  • 400g minced meat (pork, beef or a mix of both)

  • 1 egg

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 1 clove of garlic, minced

  • 90g breadcrumbs (fresh or dried)

  • ¼ tsp all spice 

  • 1 tbsp dill

  • 2 tbsp butter

  • 2 tbsp plain flour

  • 2 cups beef stock

  • 1 cup cream

  • 2 tsp soy sauce

  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard

  • 2 potatoes to make mash

How to make traditional Swedish meatballs:

  1. In a bowl, combine the minced meat, egg, onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, all spice, most of the dill and salt & pepper. Roll the mixture into meatballs.

  2. Fry the meatballs over a medium-high heat in an oiled pan until browned and cooked through.

  3. Remove the meatballs and melt the butter in the pan. Add the flour and stir together.

  4. Slowly add the stock while whisking the mixture over a low-medium heat.

  5. Once combined, add the cream, soy sauce, Dijon mustard and salt & pepper then mix well and bring to a simmer until it’s thickened nicely.

  6. Chop your potatoes. Boil until soft in a separate pan with 1 tablespoon of butter. Once they are soft enough, mash until smooth and season with salt and pepper to taste

  7. Serve your meatballs and gravy with mashed potatoes and a lingonberry jam (cranberry will do the trick). Sprinkle with the remaining dill and enjoy.


Gyros

Feeling super hungry? Gyros is a hearty Greek wrap that can be found all over Greece traditionally filled with juicy rotisserie kebab meat. Since we don’t have a rotisserie at home, we’ve created our own version of gyros that’s simple to make from our own kitchen. Similar to a shawarma, this fresh dish is the perfect lunch-time pick me up for working from home. Our take on the gyros wrap is a slightly healthier version of the classic as we do it without the fries, but just as tasty and comforting. Here’s how to make it (and feel free to add in some fries if you want to).

Ingredients: 

  • 2 Flatbreads or pita bread 

  • 1 medium pack of boneless chicken thighs

  • 1 tomato

  • 1 red pepper

  • Lettuce

  • 2 red onions

  • Plain yogurt 

  • 2 Garlic cloves (crushed)

  • Cucumber

  • Fresh mint

  • Olive oil

  • Lemon juice

  • Salt

  • 1 tbsp Paprika

  • 1 teaspoon Cumin

  • Coriander

  • Tzatziki 

  • Fries (optional)

How to make gyros:

  1. First, make a Greek marinade for the chicken. Add the yogurt, 1 crushed garlic, paprika, lemon juice and olive oil into a bowl. Mix it up.

  2. Add the chicken and coat in the marinade. Marinate in the fridge for an hour

  3. Chop your tomato, lettuce, pepper, red onions and and coriander

  4. Make your tzatziki. See below for recipe*

  5. Once the chicken is marinated, cook your thighs over high heat on a skillet. Make sure any excess marinade is shaken off before cooking.

  6. Make sure the chicken is cooked for 5-6 minutes on either side until you get a nice golden, crispy coating. 

  7. Once it’s properly cooked, assemble your gyros.

  8. Lay out your flatbread and add the chicken, tzatziki, tomato slices, red onions, pepper, lettuce and chopped coriander. Add fries if you’re including them in this recipe. Squeeze lemon juice over it, wrap up and enjoy!

*To make tzatziki:

  1. Add plain yogurt into a bowl

  2. Grate cucumber and chop your mint

  3. Make sure to drain the cucumber properly before adding it to the yogurt. Throw in the mint and 1 crushed garlic to the mixture

  4. Squeeze lemon juice in and add 1 tsp of olive oil 

  5. Mix together and enjoy!


Currywurst

If you’re craving a trip to Germany, then this recipe will hit the spot. Eat it as a light lunch or dinner or serve alongside crispy chips to bulk it out a little. Currywurst is one of the easiest German classics to make from home and it’s guaranteed to transport you to one of the capital’s finest food stands. This is how you can easily make currywurst from home…

Ingredients: 

  • German bratwursts (or the best sausages you can get hold of, vegetarian sausages will also work)

  • 1 onion, very finely chopped

  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • 1 cup tomato ketchup

  • 5 tsp mild curry powder

  • 2 tsp smoked paprika

  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

  • 5 tbsp stock (beef, chicken or vegetable)

  • 1 tsp sugar

  • ½ tsp yellow mustard

  • Salt & pepper

  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

How to make German currywurst:

  1. Heat a little oil in a saucepan and cook down the onion until translucent. Then add the garlic. 

  2. Add all the remaining ingredients (tomato ketchup, curry powder, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, stock, sugar, mustard, salt & pepper and cayenne pepper for some extra spice), combine and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

  3. If you have a hand blender then use it to make your sauce smooth, if not then a slightly chunky curry sauce will do fine!

  4. Ideally, leave your sauce in the fridge overnight, but if you can’t wait then get your sausages cooking.

  5. Fry or grill your sausages then slice up and serve covered in your tangy currywurst sauce with fries or crusty bread. Sprinkle with a little extra curry powder and it’s ready to eat. 


Spaghetti al pomodoro

If you’re not new to the cooking thing, then we’re sure you will have tried a variation of this recipe already. Pomodoro sauce is known for being the basis of Italian cooking and every family in the country will have their own way of creating it. This recipe is one way to cook up an authentic Italian spaghetti al pomodoro and it couldn’t be more straightforward.

Ingredients:

  • Ripe cherry tomatoes

  • 1 good quality tin of whole tomatoes

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 2 small garlic cloves, chopped

  • Fresh basil leaves

  • Spaghetti

  • Parmesan cheese

  • 1 small chilli, finely chopped (optional)

  • Olive oil

  • Salt

How to make spaghetti al pomodoro:

  1. Gently heat the garlic, chilli and a couple of basil leaves with a glug of olive oil in a large saucepan.

  2. Add the tin of tomatoes and cherry tomatoes with a good pinch of salt. Cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes.

  3. Cook the spaghetti until al dente then drain and add to the tomato sauce. 

  4. Serve and top with a drizzle of olive oil, some more fresh basil and some grated Parmesan.

Fancy trying to make your own pasta from scratch? As mentioned in our article on the most , check out the Pasta Grannies on Youtube for their tips

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