Three best vegetarian recipes from Spain

Thursday April 15, 2021 | Spanish Culture | Posted by studyspanishinspain

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Three best vegetarian recipes from Spain

Traveling to Spain to learn Spanish means immersing yourself totally in the Spanish culture and daily life. While this great and one of the goals of a study abroad trip, by times, it can be a bit daunting and a challenge too. There is always an adjustment period, especially to new food. This reality usually becomes all the more intense for those of us who don’t eat meat. There is no doubt about it: being a vegetarian in Spain can present a challenge. But if you find the right recipes, it’s great! Here are the three best vegetarian recipes from Spain.

First thing to know: when you live with a host family during your Spanish course in Spain you will notice, that the Spanish eat a large amount of meat. And, that the majority of dishes have pork, chicken or fish as their main ingredient. What’s more, vegetarianism – although now growing steadily – has been slow to develop in Spain. But having vegetarian food while living in Spain for a Spanish Immersion Program is possible! Even better: 10% of Spaniards already have a mainly vegetarian diet today. That equates to 3.8 million people, of which two-thirds are women. Flexitarians are the majority. The main reasons Spaniards give for following a vegetarian diet are health, concern for the environment and animal suffering.

Tortilla de patatas recipe Spain

Three best vegetarian recipes from Spain

Tortilla de patatas

There is no bar in Spain that does not have its own tortilla recipe, nor is there a Spanish host family that does not make it from time to time, applying the variations learned by generations. Eternal discussions always arise when trying to determine the exact setting point of the tortilla or whether or not to include onion. The “tortilla de patatas” or the Spanish tortilla is a staple in the Spanish cookbook that even vegetarians cannot miss.

Due to the dish being simple and similar to other egg-based omelettes, the exact origins of the invention of the tortilla de patatas is debated. The first reference of the dish may have been in a letter dated from 1817. The letter talked about the poor conditions of the people living in Pamplona and the Ribeira. The letter mentioned how the people made do with just a few eggs, very expensive at the time, that were cooked as a tortilla with potato to make it more filling in order to feed five to six people. Others say that it was Tomás de Zumalacárregui who first invented the dish as a cheap and easy way to feed his troops during the siege of Bilbao. Another story goes that it was a farm wife who invented the dish to help feed her hungry family. Whatever the true story, we can assume that the dish came about to feed large families or groups of people to ensure that they were filled even during difficult times.

Ingredients Tortilla de Patatas (4 people):

  • Eggs, 6
  • Potatoes, 600 gr or 3 pieces
  • Onion, one small
  • Olive oil, 2 cups
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation:

  • Peel and dice the onion. If the potatoes are dirty, run them through water. Peel them and cut them in half lengthwise, and then cut each piece into 1/2-inch thin half-moons. Put everything in the pan, season to your liking and fry over low heat for 25-30 minutes.
     
  • Remove the fry and drain it. Transfer the oil to a container and reserve it. Clean the pan with absorbent kitchen paper. Crack the eggs, place them in a large bowl and beat them. Salt them to your liking and add the potato fry, onion and mix well.
     
  • Put the pan back on the low heat, add a splash of the reserved oil and add the mixture. Stir a little with a wooden spoon and wait some minutes for it to start to set. Separate the edges and cover the pan with a plate that is larger than the pan diameter and turn it over. Carefully slide the tortilla into the pan again so that it sets on the other side.

Tip: Another alternative is to make it by adding green peppers, which also give it a very special flavour.

 

ONE OF THE SCARIEST THINGS: THE FLIP!

Without a doubt, when you make your first Spanish omelette, one of the scariest things is the dreaded flip. But if you follow a few little tips, you will become a true Spanish omelette professional:

  • One of the most important things is that your pan is non-stick, because no matter how well you turn it, if the tortilla has stuck to the pan, it will be impossible for you to do it well. Therefore, get a good non-stick frying pan, with the right size and more vertical sides, so that your omelette takes the perfect shape and you can make it thicker if you like it better that way. There are also special pans for potato omelette that come with two pans and a safety hook to join them and turn the tortilla without problem.
     
  • That said, it is important to make sure before turning the tortilla that it has completely detached from the bottom. For this I recommend that you separate it and shape it with a silicone or wooden spatula on the sides, to help the egg detach and thus give it a more rounded shape. It is also advisable to move the pan back and forth, separating it a little from the heat, until we check that the bottom peels off. Once we see that our tortilla “slides” through the pan, it is time to turn it over.
     
  • Take a flat plate larger than the diameter of the pan you are using, rest the palm of your hand firmly on it, and pressing it on the pan, turn it quickly and gently on the plate.
     
  • Carefully slide the tortilla back onto the pan, for which you can help yourself with a spatula, to cook the other side of the tortilla. Then follow the same process of moving the pan to find out when you can remove it from the heat. To remove it, follow the same process with the plate as before. In this case it will be easier since the egg will already be set.
     
  • If you are living with your host family while learning Spanish in Spain, ask your mum for advice! She’ll proudly share her secrets with you (or may be not… but she’ll be delighted to prepare the dish with you!

 

SALMOREJO

Salmorejo recipe vegetarian meal Spain

The trio of cold Andalusian soups, salmorejo, gazpacho and ajoblanco, are all vegetarian recipes – of course, if you order or make them without a ham garnish. The origin of salmorejo can be traced back to the city of Córdoba.

Salmorejo is a delicious thick cream that is eaten cold, which can be prepared by patiently mashing the ingredients in a mortar, or with the help of a blender or a food processor. Although there are those who add some additional ingredients to which we are going to indicate, the traditional recipe is made with only four: tomatoes, telera bread, extra virgin olive oil and salt, to which you can add a clove of garlic.

Depending on the recipe you prefer to use, the line that separates it from gazpacho is that the salmorejo must be thicker, to be eaten with a spoon. In Córdoba, it is also usually prepared as an accompaniment to fried aubergines, a delight. This cold soup is ideal to eat during the hot summers!

 

The main ingredient in salmorejo is tomato, which has many nutritional benefits:

  • Tomatoes contain 90% water; therefore, it is very low in calories.
  • Like all fruits and vegetables it has a good amount of fiber, great for fighting constipation.
  • It is rich in potassium and phosphorus. Apart from other functions, potassium participates in nerve transmission and muscle work. The main function of phosphorus is the formation of bones and teeth. But it also plays a very important role in protein synthesis for growth.
  • Contains Vitamin A, essential for good eyesight and good condition of the skin, hair, mucous membranes and the immune system. Vitamin C, E and vitamins of group B, this makes it a great food to prevent anaemia since it increases the absorption of iron in the body.
  • It has a large amount of carotenes (including lycopene), thanks to these and vitamins E and C it is an antioxidant food, so it helps prevent cardiovascular and brain risks, and delays skin aging.
  • In addition, salmorejo is a low calorie food: 100 ml has 70 Kcal, which means that a normal serving of 250 ml contains nothing more than 175 Kcal.

 

Ingredients (4 people):

  • Tomato, 1 kg
  • Loaf bread, preferably from Cordoba Telera, 200 g
  • Extra virgin olive oil, 150 ml
  • Garlic, 1 clove
  • Salt to taste
  • Some hard boiled eggs

Preparation:

  • Start by washing the tomatoes and remove the green from the peduncle. Crush the tomatoes. It is not necessary to peel or remove the seeds. Pass the tomato puree through a fine sieve.
     
  • Place the bread in a bowl and cover it with the tomato puree. Let it soak for about ten minutes. Add the garlic clove and crush well with the mixer until you get a thick cream of bread and tomato. You can vary the proportion of bread depending on the water in the tomatoes you use and how consistent the crumb is.
     
  • Add the extra virgin olive oil. A good salmorejo should always be made with oil from the Córdoba area, but in any case, if you don’t have any from there, use a good extra virgin olive oil that will achieve the perfect emulsion and a creamy and thick result.
     
  • After adding the oil, return everything to the food processor or a blender and blend it patiently until the salmorejo is uniform, with a beautiful orange colour and compact enough to hold on its surface the traditional garnish bits with which it is decorated.

Accompany the Andalusian salmorejo with chopped hard-boiled egg and a few drops of extra virgin olive oil.

Tip: Choose well-ripened red tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil without a strong flavour, especially if you are preparing the soup for children. You can also accompany the soup with bits of apple or orange; the contrast of flavours of the fruits with the salmorejo gives it a special touch.

PISTO MANCHEGO

Pisto Manghego vegetarian recipe Spain

Pisto comes from humble origins and it’s a classic of the Spanish gastronomie. Farm workers were fed with the seasonal vegetables that were growing at the time. Pisto or ratatouille is perfect as a first course or to make a light dinner. In many houses in Spain it is accompanied with a fried egg, which adds consistency to the recipe.

It is a vegetable sauce, always zucchini, red pepper, green pepper, onion and tomato base, although it can vary, as always, depending on the tradition. Different regions from Spain have their own pisto recipes, for example the regions of Rioja and Murcia, but we have chosen the recipe of the famous pisto of Castillo La Mancha.

Pisto is a Castilian word that means something very chopped up, but it is also used as ‘darse el pisto’ (give pisto) or ‘vaya pisto’ (go pisto), referring to one who presumes with arrogance or when things are mixed.

Ingredients (4 people):

  • Garlic, 2 cloves
  • Onion 250 g
  • Green pepper, 200 g
  • Red pepper, 200 g
  • Tomatoes, 4 pieces
  • Zucchini, 300 g
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Some extra virgin olive oil
  • Eggs, 4 pieces
  • Bread

Preparation:

  • Heat water in a large saucepan and bring it to a boil. Remove the hard part of the tomatoes and make a cross cut at the base. Put them in the boiling water for about 15-20 seconds, take them out and put them in a bowl of ice water. Now peel and grind them.
     
  • Peel the garlic cloves and onion and finely chop them. Wash the rest of the vegetables well and cut them into small pieces of equal size. Reserve them separate from each other as we will add them to the casserole in different phases.
     
  • Heat a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan and sauté the minced garlic and onion for 10-15 minutes over low heat. Add the chopped pepper and sauté for 10-15 more minutes. Finally we add the zucchini and the crushed tomato, season to taste, cover and leave to fry for minimum 30 minutes.
     
  • After this time, we remove the lid from the casserole, raise the heat a little and cook for 10-15 more minutes or until the tomato water has evaporated. We want it to be juicy, but without traces of the water released by the vegetables, with all the ingredients well amalgamated. Once this consistency is achieved, serve immediately.
     
  • Traditionally the Manchego pisto is served with fried eggs and bread, a lot of bread to accompany it, and with this we get an excellent unique dish.

Tip: Leave out the eggs and you have a delicious vegan dish! You can prepare enough quantity to freeze in portions, since you can use the pisto as a filling for lasagne, empanadas or to accompany spaghetti.

 

All of the three best vegetarian recipes from Spain can be found in most bars and restaurants in Spain. If you looking into a Spanish language course and you want to study Spanish and live for some time in Spain, don’t worry if you are vegetarian. Even when you like to live with a host family, they will be happy to host you and prepare vegetarian meals for you. Remember the Spaniards eat late! Dinner time is mostly between 9 and 11 pm!

 

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