Our dishes to cook to feel like you are on holiday include recipes for iconic dishes from places you’re dreaming of travelling to, if you’re anything like us: cassoulet from France, gazpacho from southern Spain, tagine from Morocco, ragu Bolognese from Italy, beef Stroganoff from Russia, guacamole from Mexico…well, you don’t need to cook guacamole, but you get the idea.

It’s been 18 months since the pandemic started, flights stopped and borders closed, which means 18 months since these travel writers have travelled. So, to say we have itchy feet would be a massive understatement. We’re scratching all over, dreaming of the day we can get away again. Until then we’re cooking the dishes of places we want to return to.

As food writers as much as travel writers pre-pandemic – after all, we pivoted Grantourismo from a travel site with food stories and recipes to a food site with some travel content – we’re yearning to eat our way through cities and towns again, exploring the food scenes and culinary cultures of places we know and love, and discover new food destinations.

But it’s the food destinations with which we’re most familiar and fond of that are calling us back to savour their specialties and linger over their most iconic dishes. They’re the specialties we were eager to sample before we arrived, the local favourites that would become the first food we tried, and the dishes that we’d put on repeat when we returned home to remind us of our delicious travels.

Before we tell you all about our dishes to cook to feel like you are on holiday, we have a favour to ask. Grantourismo is reader-funded. If you’ve used and liked our recipes, please consider supporting Grantourismo by supporting our original, epic, first-of-its-kind Cambodian culinary history and cookbook on Patreon for as little as the price of a mango smoothie or two a month. Or, you could buy us a coffee. Although we’ll use our coffee money to buy cooking ingredients for recipe testing instead.

You can also support our work by using links on the site to book accommodation, rent a car or hire a motorhome or campervan, purchase travel insurance, or book a tour on Klook or Get Your Guide; shopping our Grantourismo online store (we have fun gifts for foodies designed with Terence’s images); or buying something on Amazon, such as these award-winning cookbooks, cookbooks by Australian chefs, classic cookbooks for serious cooks, cookbooks for culinary travellers, travel books to inspire wanderlust, and gifts for Asian food lovers. Now let me tell you all about our recipes to cook to feel like you are on holiday.

Dishes to Cook to Feel Like You Are on Holiday – From Bolognese to Cassoulet, Gazpacho to Guacamole

These are the recipes to make to feel like you’re on vacation – the dishes to remind you of a memorable trip to a favourite country and transport you back for a taste of the place.

Rolled Omelette – Japan

While some dream of sushi in Japan – and some reminisce about that time a fishmonger handed them the most sublime piece of tuna at Tsukiji fish market – some of us dream of the Japanese rolled omelette called tamagoyaki that we ate at a simple worker’s eatery at Tsukiji’s outer market, at a high end omokase restaurant, and in our bento boxes on the bullet train. Our Japanese rolled omelette recipe for tamagoyaki is one of the best dishes to cook to feel like you are on holidays in Japan. It makes a soft, fluffy, rolled omelette that we love to eat between thick slices of Japanese bread to make a tamago sando or Japanese egg sandwich. Japanese rolled omelettes are eaten everywhere in Japan, from simple izakayas to swish restaurants, and have a special place in the hearts of Japanese.

Cassoulet – France

Cassoulet is one of the most quintessential dishes of France, for us; alongside French onion soup and cote de boeuf. Our classic Toulouse cassoulet recipe makes a hearty stew of haricot beans, pork, sausages, and duck confit, and is one of countless versions of cassoulet. While Castelnaudary, about 180km from Ceret, is the self-proclaimed capital of cassoulet, which is named after the cassole, the earthenware pot it is often cooked in. Some 65km north of Castelnaudary, Toulouse is also a centre for this homely, filling stew. Cooking and eating cassoulet takes us back to a small Catalan mountain town we stayed at called Ceret, where there was a restaurant specialising in cassoulet, and the city of Perpignan, where we ate memorable plates of cassoulet. We also cooked the dish for a Toulouse-born local we invited for dinner. This classic Toulouse cassoulet recipe is one of the best dishes to cook to feel like you are on holidays in France.

Beef Stew – Russia

While beef Stroganoff is probably the first dish that comes to mind when you reminisce about your holiday in Russia, for me – alongside blinis – it’s a classic beef stew, especially when I dream of winter in Moscow. My traditional Russian beef stew recipe makes solyanka, a delicious hearty stew or heavy soup that’s a little sour, a little sweet, and was a whole lot saltier back in its day. First mentioned in print in the 15th century, solyanka is an ancient dish made for modern times: invented to use leftovers, it’s a one-pot dish that is filling and comforting. If our stew doesn’t take you back, try my recipes for piroshki, Russian pelmeni, stuffed cabbage rolls, beetroot potato salad, and chicken kotleti or browse my Russian family recipes. We also have more warming winter stew recipes here.

Guacamole – Mexico

We’ll never forget the first time we sampled guacamole in Mexico on the terrace of a grand old hotel overlooking the zocalo in Mexico City. It tasted so fresh, as if it had just been made – because of course it had – and so simple, because as we’d quickly learn, authentic guacamole in Mexico doesn’t have a long list of ingredients as it often does outside Mexico. This authentic Mexican guacamole recipe makes a genuine Mexican guacamole of the kind your Mexican abuela (grandma) might make if you had them – the kind that’s made table-side at good restaurants in Mexico. It’s all about the creamy luscious texture, bright green colour and full flavour of perfectly ripe avocados. I’ve been making this authentic Mexican guacamole recipe for over 30 years, since our first trip to Mexico and no dish takes me back like guacamole – except this tortilla soup or tacos al pastor or corn on the cobs or…

Gazpacho – Spain

Gazpacho must be one of the best dishes to cook to feel like you are on holidays in Spain – especially southern Spain. While we were making gazpacho long before we went to Spain, there’s still nothing like this chilled tomato soup to remind us of our summer travels on the Mediterranean, especially along the coast, on the Balearic islands, and in Southern Spain. This gazpacho recipe makes an authentic Andalusian style gazpacho from southern Spain of the kind that you’ll find in cities such as Seville. The recipe results in a vibrant orange gazpacho that tastes like a garden salad in the form of a cold summer soup. Of the many bowls and glasses of gazpacho we slurped and sipped over a couple of decades or so over travelling to Spain, we reckon this recipe makes the best gazpacho – as long as your memories are of the Andalusian style of gazpacho of course.

Chicken Tagine – Morocco

There are a number of Moroccan specialties I remember most vividly from our first visit to Morocco in the late Nineties. Several of those became my favourite Moroccan dishes, the dishes we’d order for our first Moroccan meal on return trips, and the dishes we’d seek out at Moroccan restaurants around the world, including at our home at the time, the United Arab Emirates. This Moroccan chicken tagine recipe with preserved lemons and olives is one of the best dishes to cook to feel like you are on holiday in Morocco. It makes what is probably one of Morocco’s most quintessential tagines, alongside lamb tagine with prunes and almonds recipe. Infused with intense citrus notes, thanks to umami-rich preserved lemons, the comforting Moroccan stew is traditionally eaten with crusty round bread called khobz. It’s also delicious with couscous, just don’t tell your Moroccan friends!   

Ragù alla Bolognese – Italy

We’d been eating ‘spaghetti Bolognese’ for several decades before we tried an authentic ragu alla Bolognese in Italy in its birthplace of Bologna. We’ll never forget the meal, which began with tortellini in brodo, which we thought was unbeatable, until we tasted the best tagliatelli ragu alla Bolognese we’ve ever eaten in our lives. This ragù alla Bolognese recipe is based on the traditional recipe for the classic meat sauce from Bologna in Emilia Romagna, Northern  Italy, which is used for both pasta and lasagne. Follow Terence’s exacting ingredient list and cooking directions and the result will be a perfect ragù alla Bolognese, just like it’s eaten in Bologna. This ragu alla Bolognese recipe is used for both tagliatelle all Bolognese and lasagne alla Bolognese.

Please do let us know if you make any of our dishes to cook to feel like you are on holiday, as we’d love to know how they turn out for you.

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