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Low carb Spanish cooking

Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...

Spanish recipes low in carbs

Spanish cuisine in the US has experienced an upsurge with the establishment and ever growing popularity of tapas bars and festive parties featuring tapas. But tapas are far from the best food originating in Spain. Signature dishes - such as migas, albondigas and flan - boast rich flavors and aromas while being quite simple to prepare. Best yet, these dishes as well as many others fit deliciously in your low carb lifestyle. When the craving for Spanish cuisine arises, give these three savory dishes a try.

Spanish recipes low in carbs

Ham and Peppers

Serves 4

Migas – a traditional Spanish breakfast dish made with leftover bread or tortillas – can be eaten for breakfast or lunch partnered with fried eggs or chorizo or another hearty protein.

4 thick slices low carb bread, crusts removed, cut into cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup diced Serrano ham or ham of your choice
1 red bell pepper, seeded, diced
Fried eggs

1. Sprinkle a little water, salt and pepper on the bread and set aside. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Add ham and pepper and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until pepper is tender.

2. Use a slotted spoon to transfer ham and pepper to paper towels to drain. Add bread to skillet and cook, stirring often, until bread is crisped and lightly browned. Add ham and pepper back to the skillet, stirring to combine. Serve with eggs.

Saffron Meatballs

Serves 4

Called albondigas in Spain, these meatballs are infused with lemon and saffron. Serve with a roasted tomato sauce as an appetizer or as a meaty entrée.

1 pound ground pork or veal
1 large slice whole wheat or low carb bread, torn into very small pieces
1/3 cup minced Serrano ham or fully-cooked bacon
Juice and minced zest of a small lemon
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Pinch of saffron (rub finely before adding)
1 egg
1/2 cup olive oil

1. Add all ingredients except olive oil to a large bowl and mix with your hands until well-combined. Roll meat mixture into 32 balls and set aside.

2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. In batches, add meatballs and cook, using a spatula to turn often, until all sides are browned and meatballs are cooked through. Transfer cooked meatballs to paper towels to drain.

Savory Cheese Custards

Serves 4

A satisfying change from the typically sweet flan – a caramel custard often served for dessert – this savory custard sings with cheesy flavor and is excellent paired with a salad.

2 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing ramekins
1/4 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
1-1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup whole milk
4 eggs
1/2 cup grated Manchego or Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and generously grease 4 ramekins with butter. Sprinkle breadcrumbs in ramekins and tilt ramekins to evenly coat bottom and sides. Tip out extra breadcrumbs.

2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat and cook mushrooms, stirring often, until mushrooms are tender and golden. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring milk to a simmer. Add cheese and stir to melt. Remove from heat. Put on a kettle of water to boil.

3. Lightly beat eggs in a medium-sized bowl. While whisking, add just a little bit of warm milk mixture to temper the eggs. Gradually add milk a little a time, whisking continuously to combine. Season with salt and pepper and pour into ramekins.

4.Evenly divide mushrooms among ramekins, letting them sink into the milk mixture. Carefully place ramekins in a small roasting pan and pour boiling water in pan until water comes half-way up the sides of the ramekins.

5. Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until custard is set. Remove from roasting pan and set ramekins on a wire rack to cool completely. Slide a knife around the custards and invert onto serving plates.

More Spanish-inspired recipes

Throw a terrific tapas party
Little bites of low carb Spanish fare
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