Traditional Spanish Dishes: Top 5 Vegetarian Versions You’ll Love!

Spanish gastronomy is one of the most valued and enjoyed in the world. Popular gastronomy is also a quick way to get you intimately acquainted with the distinctive tastes and culture of a country. In Spain, almost all cities have traditional local meals that distinguish them.

With the plant-based diet trend continuing to spread around the world, including Spain, many traditional Spanish dishes are now being adapted to suit vegetarians and vegans. Today, I bring you popular dishes from Spain that can be enjoyed by vegetarians (and several by vegans alike) in Traditional Spanish Dishes: Top 5 Vegetarian Versions You’ll Love!

1. Cold Soups

Ajoblanco, salmorejo and gazpacho are typical dishes from the south, specifically, Andalusia. All of them involve crushed ingredients. Salmorejo is made up of tomato, breadcrumbs, garlic and olive oil. Ajoblanco is made using a mixture of almonds, bread, olive oil, garlic, salt, and water. Gazpacho is composed of tomato, green pepper, cucumber, garlic, olive oil, sherry vinegar, (you can use apple vinegar, or beetroot vinegar instead) water, and bread.

2. Valencian Paella

Typical of the Levante region of eastern Spain, this dish usually contains rice, poultry, green beans, artichokes, snails, crushed tomato, sweet paprika, food colouring and olive oil. These type of paellas can easily be adapted for vegetarians and vegans.

Use tofu or paneer chunks, and choose your favourite vegetables; peas, broad beans, coloured peppers, peas, green beans etc. To get that striking colour, you can, of course, use saffron or turmeric which offers numerous health benefits. Likewise, you can make it with brown rice, which is healthier, or Basmati rice of course, if you prefer.

3. Potato & Legume Stew

These are ideal in cold seasons, and nutritionally complete. Many of these stews traditionally contain pieces of meat such as blood sausage (chorizo), ham, etc. However, you can substitute these with healthier alternatives. You can adapt these recipes for vegetarians and vegans simply by using legumes, potatoes and and wide range of other tasty vegetables.

There are products that taste similar to chorizos for vegetarians that can also be incorporated into these meals. You can also buy plant-based or “vegan chorizos” which are made from textured soy, or from wheat flour, rice and combined with a myriad of spices including cinnamon.

4. Grandma’s Croquettes

These delicious snacks are usually fried, and you can also make healthier versions by using the oven. Typically, they are made with béchamel (white) sauce and ham. However, there are many alternatives for vegetarians or vegans, e.g. with cheese and/or spinach, mushrooms or boletus (fungi).

5. Spanish Tortilla (Potato Omelette)

A Spanish gastronomical favourite, Spanish tortilla’s are usually made with eggs, potatoes, olive oil and a lot of love! If you are veggie or vegan, you can make a similar dish without eggs, by instead using chickpea flour, which can also be used when making pastries.

Spanish cuisine, of course, carries with it a rich and varied heritage. It’s also nice to know that health isn’t being compromised merely because of old traditions – so rest assured, you can enjoy almost identical-tasting Spanish dishes these days adapted for the veggie and vegan palate and lifestyle. Buen provecho! What are your favourite plant-based Spanish recipe adaptations? Let us know in the comments below, and join in the conversation on FacebookTwitter & Instagram!

Maria Sanchez

María Sánchez from Spain, is a Dietitian and Nutritionist. She loves her career, being able to help and teach others, including sharing her knowledge and experience through the writing and publishing of nutrition articles. She believes that nutrition is a very important science in life, and that the correct type of diet can help prevent diseases for which we simply don't have effective cures. Her mission is to educate people on healthy eating to achieve optimum well-being.

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