One of the things that I found peculiar in Spain is that there are comparatively few vegetarians and even fewer vegans. Despite the many hours of beautiful sunshine this country enjoys, and the culture of growing oranges, grapes, almonds, kaki fruit and olives, the favourite dish here is paella.
Paellas represent a mix of of two cultures, the Roman culture that brought with them the flat cooking pan. This allowed for food to be cooked in a hot quick fire fuelled by twigs and scraps of wood that were available to foragers. And the Arabic culture with its sophisticated irrigation system and ability to grow rice.
A typical recipe for a Valencian seafood paella would include the following ingredients: Bomba Rice, Prawns, clams and mussels, onion, garlic, paprica, saffron, fresh herbs, olive oil and seafood stock.
You may find a recipe here:
Though delicious, this is one meal that is likely to knock you out. Napping after lunch is the norm in Spain as the lunchtime break is usually between 12:30 and 4pm, allowing plenty of time to recover from the heat outdoors and from the cooked food. Don’t even think about getting anything done during this time! Banks, offices and service providers will all be closed.
If, however, you don’t have the time for a long nap after a heavy meal, but you still want to feel like you are indulging in rich Spanish culture, consider an alternative recipe. A raw food paella! Here are the ingredients:
- For the dressing – soak a large pinch of saffron in lemon juice for 20mins. Then whisk 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of honey or agave syrup and some sea salt (to your taste).
- Put cauliflower, almonds, butternut squash, onion, and garlic in food processor until they attain a grainy rice-like consistency.
- Stir in tomatoes, parsley and the saffron dressing.
- Top the dish off with some of your favourite marinated vegetables, additional finely chopped parsley and a dusting of paprika.