Wherever I am, I try my best to eat local foods and try local dishes. Food tells us so much about a place and the people – It’s always fun to search for vegan options too!
Barcelona has declared its self to be a veggie friendly city – And I can see why! When I go out for a meal, it’s not heard to find veggie options and places that cater just to vegetarians and vegans. This city is by far one of the easiest places to be veggie I think! I never worry about what I am going to eat.
I want to dive deeper and get to know what Catalan food is all about too. Each region of Spain has its own unique flavour and Catalans offer some wonderful traditional Catalan dishes.
Many of these dishes are very easy to make at home. If you love cooking, Barcelona has many beautiful markets that offer fresh fruits and vegetables. Every time I cook, I feel inspired to try out the local recipes and find adaptations where needed.
☀ Pa Amb Tomaquet (Pan Con Tomate) – Bread & Tomato
This is one of the easiest and tastiest ways to enjoy simple and delicious food. Every morning, I enjoy this as part of my breakfast now – It is also eaten as a tapa or merienda (afternoon snack).
But what is it? A classic part of Catalan cuisine… It’s essentially bread topped with tomatoes. Sounds simple right? But the key is the ingredients! Once you get good quality ingredients to make this simple dish, you will be hooked… There is almost a scared art to how you do it too.
✅ A simple way to make it:
- Choose a rustic toasted bread – For an authentic touch, the bread used is called pa de pagès. Cut into slices and toast as a base.
- Sprinkle the bread with salt (optional) – Some people like it, some don’t, do it to your taste. It will be spread evenly in the next step.
- Choose good quality tomatoes – Tomatoes on the vine (tomàquets de ramallet) or hanging tomatoes (omàquets de penjar) are best for this. Cut the tomatoes in the middle half and use each half to rub around the top of the bread until you are left with just the skin and the bread has soaked up all the tomato. It will leave the bread soft and moist.
- Sprinkle the bread with a good quality extra virgin oil – This seems to bring all the flavours together.
- That’s it, enjoy!
Another delicious and easy traditional vegan dish to prepare! This is known in Castilian as Escalibada, a grilled salad. The name originates from the Catalan verb Escalivar (meaning “to cook in ashes”). Tt was made in wood fires in the old days.
Time to fire up your barbecue! I find that dishes like this are perfect for sharing with friends as part of outdoor living. It also offers a good option to add to your barbecue menu if you’re looking for a veggie option. And if it’s too cold outside, you can always do this in your kitchen by grilling them in the oven instead. Just as tasty. Here is a video of how you can do this the traditional way.
A firm favourite of Catalan traditions. Speaking of grills and outdoor barbecues, this is always the first thing that people mention when I ask about Catalan food. All over the region, Catalan Winter festivals, known as Calçotada, are held to enjoy this dish and get together with loved ones.
Calçots are giant spring onions, grilled over a fire until charred. The darkened outer layer is then peeled ro reveal a moist white cooked onion. Dipped into a sauce knowns as Romesco (our next food choice below), it is lifted and lowered directly into the mouth in one go.
This gets really messy and super fun! There’s no other way to enjoy this food tradition than to get right in there 😀 You can easily make this at home too and the next time you are in Barcelona (or anywhere in this region), look out for restaurants and festivals that include this.
A delicious sauce you can enjoy with any meal. Traditionally, it is eaten with Calçots (as mentioned above). To be honest, I could happily have this sauce as part of any meal too. It can easily be blended up and made in 5 minutes.
These are the main ingredients: Roasted red peppers, plum ripe tomatoes, roasted peeled almonds or hazelnuts, 1 garlic clove, a toasted slice of bread, extra virgin oil oil, salt and/or lemon juice, plus wine vinegar. You can also add spices such as smoked paprika and cayenne pepper. I can’t give you exact amounts, I always just eyeball each ingredient in the blender and taste as I go along. There are so many variations to this recipe out there – So, try it out and see how you like it!
Panellets are also known as “little breads” and eaten on All Saints Day (November 1st – Castanyada). These cute marzipan balls are often served with a sweet wine. Although, they are often made with egg, I found a recipe that I like which offers a vegan version.
☀ Estofat de Quaresma – Catalan Vegetable Stew
Who doesn’t like a comforting bowl of warm stew? This is a real winter warmer and can be served as a starter or as a main meal. With stews and soups, I love to stock up on bread to eat them with. Here is the way I make it…
☀ Sopa De Galets (Escudella De Nadal) – Catalan Pasta Soup
Christmas is coming! You will see this on menus as Winter and Christmas approaches. Traditionally, this is the first dish of Christmas lunch as Sopa de galets, a soup of big pasta shells that are sometimes stuffed with small meatballs. As always, there is a vegan version that you can adapt and enjoy! Try another of my favourite recipes here…