Going out for tapas is always a fun and social thing to do - perfect when dining with a group. It makes an excellent choice when going out with colleagues or people you don’t know that well, as everyone can have a little of what they want. Spanish tapas is also brilliant when you’re vegan...
A lot of tapas is already, or can easily be made, vegan. So it is a really great dining out option to suggest if you’re worried about being ‘the only vegan at the table’.
As with many of these cuisine guides, the first thing you’ll need to check is how they cook their dishes – i.e. do they use olive oil, butter or cream? Being Mediterranean you’d be forgiven for assuming that it’s olive oil all the way, but something like Champiñones (mushrooms) might be cooked in cream. Typically the method of cooking will be stated in the menu description, but if at all worried then just ask. The majority of time you’ll be able to request that the dish be cooked with olive oil instead, and the beauty of being in a Spanish restaurant is that is one ingredients they will always have on hand!
In Spain the tapas can vary from region to region, but you’ll find that the idea remains the same wherever you go – small plates of food that are meant to be enjoyed socially. Originally very basic, tapas was served to sherry drinkers in the bars of Andalucia. The bread would be placed on top of the sherry glass to stop the fruit flies getting in ‘mid-drink’, and the name ‘tapas’ is derived from the Spanish verb meaning ‘to cover’. Today tapas is almost a cuisine in itself, and you’ll find it a major part of the menu in restaurants in Spain or at home. Here are a few of our favourite vegan dishes to look out for:
- Patatas bravas – fried potatoes with a slightly spicy tomato sauce
- Patatas a lo pobre – fried potatoes with green peppers
- Judias verdes – green beans with garlic, sundried tomatoes and pine nuts
- Gazpacho – cold and flavourful tomato soup
- Espinacas con garbanzos – spinach with chickpeas
- Ajo blanco – chilled almond soup; almonds, bread, olive oil, garlic, salt, and water. Usually served with grapes or melon cubes on top
- Pimientos del Padron – small green fried peppers
- Esparragos con Alcachofas – asparagus and artichokes
- Ensalada mixta – mixed salad (make sure they don´t put tuna or bacon/ham on it!)
- Tomate alinado – sliced Tomato with garlic and olive oil
- Paella de verduras – rice with vegetables. Note: a vegan paella is a glorious thing!
- Zanahorias aliñadas – carrots marinated with olive oil, vinegar, garlic, cumin, and other herbs and spices – served cold
- Pan – bread served with olive oil
- Pan Catalan – toasted bread with tomato and garlic
- Champiñones – mushrooms cooked with shallots, garlic and oil
Most places recommend three or four plates per person if dining as a main meal, but the great thing about tapas is that you can order a few dishes, and then order a few more! Play around with plate combinations and aim to try at least one different dish every time you go. You’ll also find that many restaurants offer ‘house tapas’ as part of their specials board, with in-season vegetables and local produce, so be sure to check those out too.
Why not check out our Spanish Vegan Recipes!