This post is in continuation of my Vegetarian Traveler series. My first post was on Dallas, Texas. I will continue to discuss what traditional meals are already vegetarian, how to easily make meaty meals vegetarian friendly, and point out some veggie restaurants in whichever location I am talking about.
For those of you who may not know, Spain is made up of autonomous communities divided in a way like states or provinces. These communities are devolved areas, where each area has a certain amount of power. There are a total of 17 autonomous communities, plus 2 autonomous cities. Now, these dividing lines are not random. They tend to reflect the historical and cultural heritage of the areas of Spain. The autonomous community of Catalunya has long existed as a region of Spain with its own history, language, culture, and specifically, cuisine! Barcelona, the capital of Catalunya, has become a hub for foodies and offers so much!
These dishes are unique and distinct from Spanish cuisine, as they are from the region of Catalunya. As the region meets with the sea, many dishes include various types of fish. However, the meat of choice is pork. Besides pork and fish, Catalan cuisine actually has quite a bit of veggies! Hooray! Some of my favourite foods are originally vegetarian. Look out for these options!
1. Pa amb tomàquet
This is a snack/appetizer specific to Catalunya. You take some toast, rub garlic into the bread, rub tomato, and then dress it with oil. Delicious and refreshing!
Consisting of smoky grilled vegetables, Escalivada is a staple in Catalan cuisine. Escalivada comes from the Catalan word ‘escalivar’ which means to char, as in roasting over ashes or embers. The dish typically includes eggplant, bell peppers, and onions. Catalans eat Escalivada as a first place or side. Sometimes this dish is served with anchovies, so be careful when ordering!
These spring onion looking things are in fact green onions from the Catalan region. They are specially grown in Catalunya, and are only available between November and April. When it’s calçots season, it is a particularly festive time of year because Catalans enjoy a barbecue revolving around them! Calçots are green onions that grow into the shape of thin leeks. They are grilled and then you peel the outside to dip the white core in romesco sauce (nut and red pepper).
These dishes are not necessarily from Catalunya, but they are still popular all over the region as well as all over Spain.
1. Patatas bravas
My guilty pleasure! Though these are not a Catalan specific dish, they are found all over Barcelona. In Valencia and Catalunya, the potatoes are covered in a sauce made of olive oil, red pepper, paprika, chili, and vinegar — ‘brava sauce’. In these areas, the dish is traditionally served alongside aioli. Mixing the brava sauce and aioli together is heavenly.
2. Tortilla de patatas (tortilla española)
A popular Spanish dish, Spanish omelette is not your average omelette. Think of it more as a potato-egg cake. There are many ways to make Spanish omelette, but the most traditional way is vegetarian friendly! Onions are fried and set aside. Slices of potatoes are fried in a sea of oil until they are just about breaking apart. The potatoes are drained of excess of oil and then mixed with onions and eggs. It’s all put in a pan. The scariest part is watching someone flip the entire omelette onto a plate and sliding it back into the pan. I can barely stay in the room when Victor makes it!
Croquetes (or croquetas in Spanish) are filled batter balls. While the most popular varieties include ham or chicken, cheese croquetes are definitely common enough to request for them. You can also have mushroom, spinach, and other vegetarian versions.
1. Teresa Carles
This place is delicious! While Spain is not known for being the most vegetarian friendly place, big cities are quickly picking up on it. This Barcelona restaurant is delicious for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. You can read my review of this restaurant here.
This vegetarian restaurant gets great reviews for its dedication to creating vegetarian meals that are delicious regardless of your lifestyle choices. They have Spanish cuisine, but also plenty of other dishes inspired by countries all over the world.