Exploring Argentina’s Traditional Side Dishes

Introduction to Argentina’s cuisine

Argentina is a country famous for its meat-centric cuisine, with a strong influence from Spanish and Italian cooking traditions. The country’s rich and diverse landscape, from the Andes mountains to the fertile pampas, has contributed to a varied gastronomy that is full of flavors and textures. Some of the most popular dishes in Argentina include asado (grilled meats), empanadas (savory pastries), chimichurri sauce, and dulce de leche (caramelized milk). However, no meal in Argentina is complete without a few side dishes to complement the main course.

What are traditional side dishes?

In Argentina, side dishes are an essential part of any meal, adding flavor, texture, and variety to the main course. Traditional side dishes in Argentina include salads, vegetables, and starches such as potatoes, rice, and pasta. However, some of the most iconic and flavorful side dishes are unique to Argentina and reflect the country’s culinary heritage. From hearty stews to savory pastries, these side dishes are essential to experiencing the full range of flavors that Argentina has to offer.

Empanadas: Argentina’s iconic snack

Empanadas are perhaps the most famous side dish in Argentina, and they can be found in almost every corner of the country. These savory pastries are usually filled with beef, chicken, or cheese and are baked or fried until crispy. Empanadas can be enjoyed as a snack or a full meal and are often served with a side of chimichurri sauce. The exact recipe and preparation of empanadas vary by region, but they are always a tasty and satisfying addition to any meal.

Chimichurri: A sauce with history

Chimichurri is a sauce that has become synonymous with Argentine cuisine. Made with parsley, garlic, vinegar, and olive oil, chimichurri is often served with grilled meats but can also be enjoyed with bread, empanadas, or vegetables. The sauce has an interesting history, with some sources tracing its origins to British meatpacking plants in Argentina during the 19th century. Today, chimichurri is an essential component of Argentine cuisine, and no asado (barbecue) is complete without it.

Locro: The hearty stew for cold days

Locro is a thick and hearty stew that is typically served during the colder months in Argentina. It is made with corn, beans, meat (usually beef or pork), and a variety of vegetables and spices. Locro has a long history in Argentina, dating back to the indigenous communities that inhabited the region before colonization. Today, it is a beloved dish that is often served on patriotic holidays such as Independence Day.

Provoleta: Grilled cheese with a twist

Provoleta is a type of cheese that is commonly used in Argentine cuisine, especially in grilled dishes. It is a semi-hard cheese that is slightly smoky and salty, similar to provolone cheese. Provoleta is often grilled or pan-fried until it is melted and bubbly, and it is usually served as a side dish with meats or vegetables. Some variations include adding chimichurri or oregano to the cheese for added flavor.

Humita: A savory corn pudding

Humita is a savory corn pudding that is another traditional side dish in Argentina. It is made with fresh corn, onions, and spices and then wrapped in corn husks and boiled or steamed. Humita has a creamy and slightly sweet flavor, and it can be served hot or cold. It is often enjoyed as a snack or a side dish to grilled meats.

Milanesa: Breaded meat, Argentinian style

Milanesa is a breaded and fried meat dish that is popular in Argentina, especially for lunch or dinner. It is made with thinly sliced beef or chicken that is breaded with flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs and then fried until crispy. Milanesa can be served with a variety of side dishes, such as mashed potatoes, salads, or French fries.

Matambre: A rolled meat delicacy

Matambre is a rolled meat dish that is typically filled with vegetables, eggs, and herbs. It is made with a thin slice of beef that is pounded flat and then topped with the filling before being rolled up and cooked. Matambre is usually roasted or grilled and then sliced into thin pieces for serving. It is a popular side dish for asados and other grilled dishes.

Alfajores: Sweet treats to finish off the meal

Alfajores are a popular sweet treat in Argentina that are often served as a dessert or an afternoon snack. They are made with two buttery cookies that are sandwiched together with dulce de leche and then dusted with powdered sugar. Alfajores can also be dipped in chocolate or filled with other sweet fillings, such as fruit jams or nuts. They are a perfect way to end a meal in Argentina.

In conclusion, traditional side dishes in Argentina are an essential part of the country’s rich culinary heritage. From empanadas to chimichurri sauce, these dishes are full of flavor and reflect the diverse cultural influences that have shaped Argentine cuisine. Whether you are enjoying a hearty stew on a cold day or a grilled steak on a sunny afternoon, be sure to explore the many delicious side dishes that Argentina has to offer.

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Written by John Myers

Professional Chef with 25 years of industry experience at the highest levels. Restaurant owner. Beverage Director with experience creating world-class nationally recognized cocktail programs. Food writer with a distinctive Chef-driven voice and point of view.

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