Kitchn Love Letters

3-Ingredient Spanish Gildas Are the Fastest, Fanciest Snack I Know

published Aug 15, 2023
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Overhead photo with serving dish with Spanish gildas on skewers made with pepperoncini, olives, anchovies
Credit: Sheela Prakash

The souvenirs I buy for myself when traveling are almost always of that gastronomic sort. I cart honey home from Italy, tea from England, and last year, when in Spain, I made room in my suitcase for vermouth. While there, I quickly fell for their hora del vermut, a weekend tradition of stopping for a glass of vermouth before lunch. 

Green olives or another small bite are classic accompaniments, but the one I loved the most was a gilda: A skewer consisting of not just a green olive, but also an anchovy and a spicy pickled pepper. This briny creation was so simple yet so flavor-packed, I was sold at first bite. Since then, gildas have become my go-to fast and fancy snack  — with or without the vermouth and really, at any time of day.

Why I Love Gildas 

If you’re someone who loves salty, briny flavors like me, gildas are a dream come true. They’re said to have been invented in 1946 at Bar Casa Vallés in San Sebastián, Spain, and were named for the actress Rita Hayworth’s character Gilda in the film by the same name that premiered in San Sebastián that year. A skewer or two feels slightly more substantial than munching on a small bowl of olives alone, but they pair equally as well with a drink. The sweet, bitter flavor of red or white vermouth isn’t just the only perfect match: A cold beer, glass of wine, gin and tonic, or even a can of lemon seltzer are equally well-suited. Or go big and use one as a martini garnish. 

Credit: Sheela Prakash

How to Make Gildas 

Making a gilda is as simple as taking a long toothpick and threading a pickled green pepper, anchovy, and pitted green olive onto it. Repeat and repeat.

The key to such a simple snack is to use great ingredients. Traditionally, gildas are made with Spanish guindilla (also known as piparras) peppers, which are thin, yellow-green in color, and mildly spicy, plus oil-packed anchovies, and meaty variety of green olives called manzanilla. You don’t have to stay so fastidious as long as you pick high-quality versions of all three. Now isn’t the time for mushy canned olives. My current go-tos are the pitted Green Amfissa Olives and whole Pepperoncini from Big Picture Foods plus the Cantabrian Anchovies (which are currently out of stock for the summer but will be returning in September) from Fishwife

If You’re Making Gildas, a Few Tips 

  • Used pitted green olives: This should go without saying, but you can’t skewer an unpitted olive.
  • Keep napkins nearby: The combination of brine and oil can be a little messy if you’re not careful.
  • Make extra: I always make two skewers per person when assembling these for friends but they always go faster than I anticipate, especially when there are cold drinks being sipped.