Canarian cuisine – Canarian dishes
When visiting the Canary Islands, it is worth trying the specialties of local delicacies. Canarian cuisine is not just, contrary to appearances, fish and seafood, but also many interesting meat and vegetable dishes. The local specialties include rabbit in Salmorejo sauce and Canarian goat. However, there are many other noteworthy dishes that can be found in local “Guachinche” restaurants throughout the year. These are local, often family-owned establishments, although they have become quite commercialized. It is worth paying attention to these traditional guachinches, which are small, family-run taverns.
They serve wine from their own vineyards and an average of three plates of typical Canarian cuisine. They remain open only until the wine is depleted, usually about 3 to 4 months. Incredibly delicious “grandmother’s dishes” at surprisingly attractive prices served in a family atmosphere, accompanied by incredibly exquisite local wine. Most often, it is dry red wine, called “Tinto”, or fruity white wine called “Afrutado”. The menu is usually diverse, and everyone can find something for themselves. You can enjoy both vegetable and meat dishes (mainly grilled) or local white cheeses.
The best Canarian restaurants in Tenerife are located in the northern part of the island, particularly between the towns of La Orotava and La Laguna. We especially recommend trying various appetizers such as Padron peppers, Garbanzas, Ropa Vieja, Queso Asado, Canarian potatoes with sauces, breaded mushrooms with Almogrote, as well as Escaldon (one of the favorite local dishes).
The dishes may slightly vary depending on the restaurant. For example, in Tenerife, dishes like Escaldon and Ropa Vieja are prepared with meat. However, in Gran Canaria, Escaldon is prepared with fish. There are also places where Ropa Vieja is served with octopus. The popular Canarian sauces will also differ from each other.
1. Pimientos de Padron
2. Ropa Vieja
3. Queso Asado
4. Papas arrugadas con mojos
5. Champiñones con Almogrote
6. Champiñones empanadas con Alioli
7. Champiñones al Ajillo
9. Morcilla Dulce
10. Ensalada de Pulpo
11. Ensalada de Batata
12. Yuca Frita
Canarian cuisine – soups
Canarian cuisine – main dishes
In the Canary Islands, appetizers are very popular. There are plenty of tapas bars here, so it’s no wonder that the range of appetizers is very diverse. Canarians love to spend hours in these types of places, enjoying their favorite drinks, engaging in long conversations, and savoring the moment while occasionally reaching for snacks. Below is a list of the most popular ones, although certainly not all delicacies.
Papas Arrugadas con Mojos (Canarian Potatoes with Sauces)
These are local potatoes cooked in their skins in water with sea salt. In size, they resemble small, young potatoes. The idea of cooking them in salted water originated many years ago when there was a shortage of drinking water on the islands, and ocean water was used instead. This tradition has been preserved to this day because despite having good access to fresh water, Canarians appreciate this cooking method and have stuck with it.
There are different varieties of these potatoes, but the most popular ones in Tenerife, with their black skins, are the first potatoes that arrived in Europe during the colonization of the Americas. And thanks to similar climatic conditions, they have preserved their original form. Papas Arrugadas are served with sauces based on garlic called “Mojo,” red (made with red peppers), and green sauce (made with cilantro). Sometimes, upon request, Aioli sauce, a thick garlic-mayonnaise dip, is also served.
Pimientos de Padrón (Padrón Peppers)
This is a dish of roasted or most commonly fried green peppers with a drizzle of olive oil. Before serving, they are sprinkled with coarse sea salt. They are typically served on a plate or in a bowl, often accompanied by tongs or a special fork. Generally, they are mild, but there’s a joke that whoever comes across a spicy pepper pays for the whole dinner, although we haven’t heard of such a “lucky” person. These peppers are grown in Andalusia, Portugal, or even Morocco, but the true and original ones come exclusively from Galicia, specifically from the parish of Herbón in the province of Padrón. They are available in vegetable shops and markets, so if you want to prepare them yourself, it is a very simple and quick dish!
Ropa Vieja, which translates to “old clothes” in Spanish, is a multi-ingredient one-pot dish. As the name suggests, it is a mixture of “leftovers,” so there is a wide range of variations in its preparation. It mainly consists of potatoes, chickpeas, meat, and is enriched with vegetables such as red bell peppers, carrots, and onions. Depending on the locality, the meat can be chicken, pork, or beef. Sometimes Ropa Vieja is served with a topping of local French fries, known as papas fritas. Its consistency often resembles our dish called “leczo,” but we have also come across it being served in the form of a soup.
Queso Asado (Grilled Cheese)
This is a delicious local goat cheese grilled in a pan. The variety of goat cheeses on Tenerife is impressive. You can find fresh or smoked versions on the menu. It is worth noting that the local goat cheeses have a distinct taste different from our typical “goat” flavor. They are usually creamy and mild in taste. Grilled goat cheese is served with sweet red “frutas del bosque” marmalade, which has a mixed berry flavor, or with savory Canarian mojo sauces. These can be a spicy red sauce or a green sauce based on olive oil and parsley, both of which also contain freshly chopped garlic. Mmmm… finger-licking good.
Champiñones con Almogrote (Breaded Mushrooms with Almogrote)
This is a delicious dish of breaded and fried mushrooms stuffed with Almogrote paste. Almogrote is a very typical Canarian paste made from goat cheese, red pepper, and a few other ingredients. It is made by mixing either red or green mojo sauce with remnants of cured mature goat cheese.
Champiñones empanadas con Alioli (Breaded Mushrooms with Garlic Sauce)
This is one of the more interesting options among appetizers, especially for garlic sauce lovers – alioli salsa. Breaded mushrooms, either whole or halved, are fried in oil and served with a delicious garlic sauce.
Champiñones al Ajillo (Garlic Mushrooms)
One of the most typical local tapas. Mushrooms sliced into thin pieces are sautéed in olive oil with garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper, and then drizzled with lemon juice. It is a very popular and well-liked dish.
Escaldon is an appetizer mainly consisting of gofio, a local corn flour made through a special process. A meat or fish broth is poured over the gofio and kneaded to obtain a more or less thick consistency. The mixture is enriched with various ingredients, as every local adds what they like. It can include pieces of meat, chopped onions, as well as green mojo sauce, corn, white cheese, and many other ingredients. All these ingredients create a kind of “mush” that locals enjoy. Some people even eat this dish every day.
Morcilla dulce is a blood sausage prepared in a sweet style. Unlike our savory blood sausage, it includes ingredients that we would associate more with pastry than sausage. It bears no resemblance to the familiar taste of blood sausage from Polish cuisine. Despite that, its flavor is pleasantly surprising! Sweetened with sugar or occasionally honey, Morcilla dulce is enriched with ingredients such as nuts, raisins, and cinnamon. It is a very interesting culinary proposition. We recommend giving it a try.
Ensalada de Pulpo (Octopus Salad)
This is a fresh vegetable salad served cold. It typically includes tomatoes, red or white onions, lime, cilantro, and, of course, boiled and sliced octopus. The olive oil-based dressing has flavors reminiscent of a vinaigrette. Sometimes avocado or olives are added to the salad. A lemon or lime wedge is also served alongside the salad to drizzle and add a citrusy flavor. It’s an interesting way of serving octopus, perfect for hot days!
Ensalada de Batata (Sweet Potato Salad)
This is a vegetable salad that slightly resembles our Polish salad. However, here the regular potatoes are replaced with sweet potatoes. The combination of various cooked vegetables creates a very tasty version of a vegetable salad, although much sweeter than what most of us are accustomed to at home. Like us, Canarians also add boiled eggs to it, but what distinguishes Ensalada de Batata is the addition of avocado and red bell pepper. It is not a dish commonly found, even in local Guachinche bars, but it is worth trying due to the interesting combination of flavors.
Yuca Frita (Fried Cassava)
This dish traveled to the Canary Islands from America, mainly Central America. It is an interesting alternative to boiled potatoes or French fries. Yuca has a similar consistency to potatoes but is slightly sweeter. This root vegetable is low in calories and rich in potassium and magnesium. In some establishments, you can also find cooked yuca. It is an interesting addition to classic dishes.
This is a type of sausage typically made from fresh pork (occasionally a pork-beef mixture). In addition to meat, it contains garlic, salt, and paprika, which gives it a characteristic red color. It also includes aromatic herbs, most commonly parsley. It is usually served in a fried or grilled version.
Canarian cuisine – soups
In Canarian cuisine, you won’t find a wide variety of soups. Apart from the popular chicken broth usually served with noodles (sopa de pollo con fideos), most of the local soups have a thick consistency. However, this makes them very hearty. Since there aren’t many of them, we recommend trying these examples to those who enjoy first courses.
This is a local chickpea soup. It mainly consists of chickpeas, onion, garlic, and bay leaf. Although in many cases, it is also served with potatoes and either chicken or chorizo sausage. It is a very tasty and nourishing dish.
This is a local and very hearty soup. Its traditional ingredients include chickpeas, pork ribs, chorizo (a type of Spanish sausage), potatoes, and vermicelli pasta. The soup is aromatic thanks to additions such as garlic, cumin, and paprika. Depending on the household and cook, various types of meat can be used, such as chicken, pork, or beef. Additionally, in Gran Canaria, chickpeas are sometimes replaced with beans. The soup is typically served with bread or potatoes.
Also known as Puchero Canario, it is a soup from the Canary Islands typically made with chickpeas, potatoes, pumpkin, and onions. Depending on the region and preferences, it may also contain corn, spinach, carrots, or leeks. It is a vegetarian dish, although some people add meat or sausage to it. The flavor of the potaje is enriched with spices such as garlic, cumin, and paprika. Served with bread or potatoes, it is a dish that provides a feeling of satiety and delights the taste buds with its rich flavors.
Potaje de Berros
This is a regional dish. In Tenerife, you can find this soup primarily in establishments located in the northern part of the island, as it is in these areas that the climate is conducive to the growth of watercress. This extraordinary plant is considered one of the healthiest in the world, partly because it slows down the aging process of the skin. The soup is typically served with pork ribs and often includes cooked chickpeas, beans, bell pepper, and a piece of cooked corn on the cob. Sometimes, Potaje de Berros can also be found with diced white cheese “queso blanco” as an additional ingredient.
Crema de Calabaza y Batata
This is a very nourishing and tasty cream soup, with the main ingredients being pumpkin and the healthy, sweet potato called “batata.” It is often seasoned with bell pepper and turmeric. This delicately flavored cream soup, although not commonly encountered, is a highly nutritious dish perfect for colder winter days.
Canarian cuisine – main dishes
The main dishes of Canarian cuisine primarily consist of grilled meat. For meat lovers, we particularly recommend Lomo Alto, Solomillo, Carne de Cabra (goat meat), and of course, Conejo en Salmorejo (rabbit in salmorejo sauce). However, apart from these options, the menu offers a wide variety of equally delicious and hearty choices. In coastal establishments, you will find fish and seafood dishes. Shrimp, mussels, squid, octopus, and many other treats await seafood enthusiasts. Below, we present the most popular meat-based main dishes from Canarian cuisine.
Carne de Cabra (Goat meet)
One of the oldest historically prepared dishes in the Canary Islands, this is closely associated with the pastoral way of life of the island’s inhabitants. Goat meat is prepared in various ways. It has a distinct flavor and a strong aroma. It is not the easiest dish to prepare, but it is very tasty, nutritious, and healthy. Goat meat promotes blood circulation and provides the body with a significant amount of natural hemoglobin, making it recommended for those with anemia. It is also recommended for pregnant women and for addressing menstrual issues.
This is a type of meat stew with potatoes. The dish is prepared with cubed pork. Depending on the establishment, it is served with either potatoes or French fries. It is a relatively inexpensive dish but quite filling and nutritious.
Conejo en Salmorejo (Rabbit in Salmorejo sauce)
This is one of the most popular dishes in Canarian cuisine. Salmorejo sauce is made from a generous blend of spices, including sweet and hot paprika, cumin, thyme, and oregano, combined with white wine and olive oil. Interestingly, Salmorejo sauce can be used to prepare any other type of meat or even fish. It is a very tasty dish.
This is simply sirloin. In gastronomic establishments in the Canary Islands, there are generally two variations of sirloin: pork sirloin (Solomillo de Cerdo) and beef sirloin (Solomillo de Ternera). They are often prepared on the grill and served with vegetables.
Lomo Alto de Ternera
This is a piece of beef tenderloin, which comes from the higher, inner part of the spine. It is located between the ribs and kidneys, which makes the meat juicy and flavorful. It is most commonly served grilled in quite substantial portions.
Also known as Ibérico Secret, it is a very tasty and juicy piece of pork meat found on the inner side of the tenderloin, closest to the animal’s front legs. It is highly popular and easy to prepare on the grill.
Costillas con Piña (Ribs with corn)
This is a highly beloved dish among Canarians. It typically consists of juicy cooked ribs served with potatoes and corn on the cob, all accompanied by a delicious Mojo Verde sauce made with cilantro.
Pollo Asado (Roast chicken)
A highly popular dish that can be found on almost every menu in the Canary Islands. One serving usually consists of half a roasted chicken. It is commonly served with “papas arrugadas” (wrinkled potatoes) and red Mojo Rojo sauce. Roast chicken is an excellent choice for those who prefer poultry over red meat.
Like in any other place in the world, the residents of Tenerife also enjoy sweets. Typical Canarian cuisine is rich in various recipes for confectionery products. Unfortunately, many of these fantastic desserts can only be found in private homes, while restaurants serve the most popular ones. Below, we present to you the most commonly encountered desserts.
One of the most typical desserts in the Canary Islands. Very quick and easy to prepare, it can be found in almost every Canarian restaurant. It is made with curdled milk, sugar, and eggs. It has a jelly-like consistency and is very sweet. However, the taste may vary from one restaurant to another.
A very tasty and equally sweet dessert. It consists of cookies, dulce de leche (sweetened condensed milk), and a crumbled meringue on top. It is highly recommended for those with a sweet tooth, as this dessert rarely disappoints.
Mus de Gofio
A typical Canarian dessert made with the local traditional corn flour called gofio. This dessert is very easy to make and its ingredients include the aforementioned flour, condensed milk, and whipped cream for added fluffiness. It is not overly sweet and can surprise with its delicate flavor. This dessert is recommended for children’s healthy diets. It is often served drizzled with palm honey for flavor contrast.
Mus de Chocolate
A very tasty and sweet chocolate mousse. It is usually made with milk chocolate, although it can be occasionally found in dark chocolate version. It is typically served with whipped cream for decoration.
Tarta tres Leches
Originally from Latin America, this dessert consists of a sponge cake soaked in three types of milk: condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream. The dessert is usually sprinkled with crumbled meringue and cinnamon, although it can also be decorated with whipped cream alone.
El Principe Alberto
A typical Canarian chocolate dessert from the island of La Palma. It was invented by a local pastry chef in the post-war period. It is a very delicious dessert with ladyfinger biscuits soaked in coffee, layers of chocolate cream with nuts, crushed almonds, and walnuts.
Canarian cuisine is a fascinating blend of colors and flavors. It has been undoubtedly influenced by three different cultures: Spanish, South American, and of course, the Guanches – the indigenous inhabitants of the islands. The dishes presented above are just a selection of the most popular ones in the local gastronomy. We encourage you to try everything new and unfamiliar, as this is the only way to discover what we enjoy and what may not be to our taste. Of course, there will be dishes that may not appeal to everyone. However, taste is subjective, and everyone has their own opinions about what they find delicious or not. Undoubtedly, everyone will find something for themselves.