FOOD TRAVELS // Spanish-Inspired Feasts

Spanish food - paella y tapas - vegan vegetaria gluten-free

Whether it's the strangely-textured ugali of Tanzania, or the cinnamon-sweet warmth of churros in Spain, one of my favourite things about travelling is the opportunity to sample the local cuisine.

Not always easy to source in vegetarian varieties (depending where you are in the country), I got a little obsessed with tapas and paella on my most recent trip to Spain and so set about cooking up a bit of a gluten-free, veggie, Spanish-inspired feast using ingredients purchased on the local market that day.

The fascination continued on returning home and I had my family round for a "house-warming" dinner the other week, whipping up some more dishes on the same Spanish theme. 

Here are some of the dishes I've been trying my hand at... 

Spanish food - vegetable paella - vegan gluten-free

Vegetable Paella {Vegan} My first port of call was perhaps the most obvious of Spanish dishes: a huge pan of paella, packed full of delicious slowly-soaked rice and fresh veg. I used this recipe from the BBC GoodFood website as a base, but changed it up according to the ingredients I had available: onions, tomatoes, peppers, garlic and green beans fresh from the morning's market; frozen peas; paella rice; vegetable stock; and some "paella mix" powder, with extra paprika and parsley for good measure. 


Spanish food - patatas aioli - vegetarian gluten-free

Patatas Aioli {Vegetarian; vegan customisable} To accompany the paella I cooked up some tapas-style dishes, the first of which was this incredibly easy patatas aioli - potatoes in garlic mayonnaise. Inspired by this recipe on The Spruce, I simply boiled some potatoes (also from the morning's market!), allowed them to cool and then stirred through some shop-bought Aioli and a generous handful of parsley. Using pre-made Aioli meant the dish was suitable for vegetarians but not vegans on this occasion, but you can find a home-made vegan alternative further below..

Spanish food - espinaca con garbanzos - vegan gluten-free

Espinacas con Garbanzo {Vegan} Literally "spinach with chickpeas," this dish should really have "garlic" somewhere in its name given the amount of it used in this Simple Vegan Blog recipe! That's certainly not a complaint where I'm concerned as I adored the garlic and paprika flavours of this dish, which accompanied the paella and contrasted the patatas aioli perfectly!

Spanish food - paella y tapas - vegan vegetaria gluten-free

Served up with some Aceitunas con Ajo y Perejil (olives with garlic and parsley) -  for which I can take no credit having bought them at the Lemon Tree Market that morning - as well as a nice cool beer each for the parentals and a large glass of Sangria for me, this was the perfect feast to enjoy al fresco on a warm Spanish Sunday night. Mucho gusto! 


Spanish food - vegan tapas - patatas bravas sauce
Spanish food - vegan tapas - patatas bravas & sweet potato fries
Spanish food - vegan tapas - patatas bravas sauce & aioli

Patatas Bravas {Vegan} When it came to feeding my family back on Scottish soil, I decided to stick with the tapas theme. Perhaps King of the Tapas - best known and most obviously vegan - I immediately went in search of a basic patatas bravas recipe, with home-made sauce. Following this easy but effective recipe from the Minimalist Baker, I cooked up a big jug of sauce full of tomatoes (fresh and tinned); onion; garlic; paprika; chilli powder; parsley and a splash of hot sauce. I roasted some baby 'patatas' in the oven 'til slightly crispy and served them up separately to be eaten with a choice of hot or cold bravas sauce.

Home-Made Aioli with Sweet Potato Fries {Vegan} Originally keen to try out a vegan-friendly patatas aioli recipe, I decided not to overdo the patatas and went instead with some sweet potato fries for this summery-feeling dish. For the aioli itself, I found this recipe by Lauren Caris Cooks which cleverly uses aquafaba (starchy water drained from a can of chickpeas) to thicken up this delicious, super-garlicky mayonnaise. I can't quite get over how close the taste and texture is to the 'real' thing!

Tortilla Espanol {Vegan} Spanish omelette is not exactly the first thing you think of when you hear the word "vegan," but these egg, dairy and gluten-free beauties - also from a recipe on Simple Vegan Blog - use water and gram (chickpea) flour as an egg replacement. I can't remember the last time I ate anything remotely resembling an omelette but, packed full of lightly-fried onion and potato, these were pretty great!

All of this was served up with a repeat of the Espinacas con Garbanzos dish, a mountain of tortilla chips, olives, vegan feta-style cheese, a rainbow of raw vegetables and some (not-so-Spanish) houmous. I cheated with some shop-bought houmous when my family visited but have since whipped up a quick home-made version, using the aquafaba from the same chickpea tin to make another vegan mayonnaise from the aioli recipe above, minus all that garlic. So simple but oh so good!

I adore all those fresh Spanish flavours and their informal sharing style of eating and have really enjoyed getting my hands (and everything else!) dirty in the kitchen. Food might not look the most attractive when I prepare it (and we almost had a disaster when I accidentally switched my fridge/freezer off!!), but these particular dishes seemed to turn out pretty 'Sabroso!' ("tasty") and I'll certainly be visiting them again! 

Over to you: Do you have a favourite dish from your travels? Have you tried recreating it in your own kitchen at all? 


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