Long feared by vegetarians as the land of jamón, Spanish cuisine also boasts a host of delicious traditional alternatives.
Guidebooks warn vegetarians coming to Spain that they are entering the land of jamón. And it’s true – Spaniards love their pork products with passion, and ham and tuna are both considered acceptable vegetarian fare in some old fashioned tapas bars.
But Spain is also home to a variety of delicious vegetarian dishes that locals love. Here’s what vegetarians in Spain should be eating.
1. Tortilla de Patatas
Let’s start with a classic choice— the famous potato omelette. You’ll find the tortilla de patatas all over Spain, and everyone has an opinion on the best way to make it. Onions or no onions? Fully cooked through or runny? Whatever your preference, there’s a tortilla for everyone and never a wrong time of day to indulge.
A Catalan specialty, this dish of roasted pepper and aubergine (eggplant) is smoky and delicious. Generally cooked until charred, it’s the perfect combination for some 'pan con tomate' that’s been smothered in extra virgin olive oil.
Possibly the most refreshing Spanish food that exists
, gazpacho is a chilled vegetable puree that Spaniards swear by as a cure-all superfood. Vegetarian friendly and full of vitamins, who could resist a cold glass of gazpacho during the hot Spanish summers?
4. Berenjenas con Miel
These crispy fried aubergine (eggplant) are smothered in sweet honey or sticky cane sugar syrup— and either way they're are absolutely delicious. Found primarily in tapas bars in southern Spain, they’re one of those dishes that you’ll crave long after the last bite.
5. Papas Arrugás con Mojo Picón
A popular vegetarian dish in the Canary Islands, these tiny wrinkled potatoes are cooked in heavily salted water and then served with savory mojo picón sauce. They make the perfect snack, and it’s impossible to grab only one!
6. Huevos Rotos
A simple dish of homemade fried potatoes and runny fried eggs on top, huevos rotos is a true Spanish comfort food. Order as is or enhance with some grilled vegetables for a hearty vegetarian meal.
7. Espinacas con Garbanzos
One of the best vegetarian options in Spain is a savoury spinach and chickpea stew called espinacas con garbanzos. This delicious dish is often served as a small tapa in Seville, and is easy to make at home too.
8. Pimientos de Padrón
In the north of Spain you’ll find some of the world’s best green peppers. Pimientos de padrón used to be quite spicy, but over the years have been adapted to become mild. However, every now and then a super spicy pepper is hidden among the others, making ordering a plate of these akin to playing Russian Roulette!
9. Patatas Bravas
One of Madrid and Barcelona’s most popular raciones to share, patatas bravas consist of deep fried potatoes smothered in slightly spicy homemade bravas sauce. Many Barcelona bars also add a healthy heap of alioli on top— and we won’t complain! We like our bravas extra spicy and served with a very cold beer.
10. Pimientos asados
This cold roasted red pepper salad is one of the most satisfying Spanish salads come summertime. Dressed with sherry vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, the flavour is outstanding. They’re best enjoyed on a terrace with a cold glass of sherry.
11. Calçots con Romesco
Calçots are one of the most delicious seasonal treats in Spain, and vegetarians visiting Catalonia between November and March must partake in a calçotada— a special barbecue where the star of the show is a seasonal local onion called the calçot. Dipped into a nutty sauce made with ground almonds and hazelnuts, this is one barbecue where vegetarians will never feel left out!
The Spanish version of ratatouille is called pisto, and it’s one of the most delicious stewed vegetable dishes in Spain. Usually consisting of peppers, tomatoes, onions and aubergine, many people like to make this dish a full meal by topping it with a fried egg.
13. Chocolate con churros
Let’s not forget the sweet stuff. Vegetarians in Spain can still enjoy the sweetest of Spanish breakfasts, chocolate con churros. Sticks of fried dough dipped in melted chocolate? Yes, please!